On the eve of destruction


We love a bit of melodrama here at TFT. It’s why I couldn’t resist this headline. Deliberately blowing things out of proportion – as if cricket is the only thing that matters – reminds us that it is, after all, only a game.

The emotions we’ve felt over the last few weeks – despair, frustration, anger amongst them – are all understandable, but a little silly.

Cricket is our hobby; it’s for fun. Our careers and livelihoods aren’t on the line. Nor will anybody die if / when England lose the Ashes 0-5. We’ll just get a little more opportunity to vent our spleens. And who doesn’t like a little moan now and again?!

If you think about it, the bitterness created by this Ashes series, and the last, is all ridiculous – and does neither the Australians, nor the English, any credit whatsoever.

Sometimes, the comments on Facebook and Twitter, not to mention Cricinfo (which seems to have become a forum for the childish, the uninformed or, quite frankly, the mentally unsound) have revealed the darker side of human nature.

Let’s face it. If you’re Australian and you hate the English so much that you’re revelling in their misery, then you’re a bit of a prat. Maybe you should look at the real problems in your life, and find the genuine source of your anger. Maybe it’s your boss, or your ex-girlfriend. It’s not really Stuart Broad, is it.

Meanwhile, us England fans need to stop berating the Aussies for their behaviour. Yes, the likes of Warner and Johnson go over the top, but it’s because they’re ecstatic – and nobody can deny that they’ve performed very, very well.

Why not take a more detached and objective view. The Aussies believe that being aggressive, and confrontational, is inextricably linked to their success. They see themselves as heavyweight boxers, and think that trash talking before, during and after the fight gives them a psychological advantage.

Of course, this assumption is wrong – Ed Smith wrote a brilliant article on cricinfo the other day disproving the fallacy that ‘sledging’ and ‘having fight’ go hand in hand – but Darren Lehmann and his team aren’t exactly intellectuals or philosophers. What do you expect? And let’s not forget that England are no angels.

It’s a real shame that our lads, during our period of dominance, fell into the same trap as the Australians. Jimmy Anderson has never been short of a word or too. Neither has KP or Matt Prior. It’s sad they chose to emulate cocky bullies like Matt Hayden rather than dignified competitors like Gary Sobers.

As Ed Smith pointed out, Rafa Nadal is just as much of a genuine fighter as John McEnroe – if not more so. Ditto Roger Federer. It is possible to be a fighter, and a winner, without behaving like a feral animal and rubbing your opponents nose in it.

The truth is England’s cricketers lost the moral high ground when we reacted to two decades of Australian dominance – an era when our players disintegrated whilst being verbally abused by Merv Hughes and Glenn McGrath – by becoming just like them when we finally started winning. We too confused being macho with being good. Remember jellybean-gate?

Back in 2005, Andrew Flintoff putting his arm around Brett Lee at the end of that iconic Edgbaston test. There was never going to be a similar moment in this Ashes series. Can you imagine Peter Siddle walking up to Ian Bell and having a consoling word?

It’s because our players, like their Australian counterparts, don’t have the class of Freddy and Brett. These two teams seem to hate each other – or at least that’s the impression they give. And hate isn’t exactly warranted, or attractive.

Many fans have forgotten that England and Australia are cultural cousins. If World War Three broke out tomorrow, I’d want an Aussie in the trenches with me – even if that Aussie was Shane Watson.

If a bomb went off in a Sydney shopping arcade, and David Warner was amongst the injured, our hearts would go out to him and his family.

With all of the bile, snide comments, gloating and bitterness flying around social media, you’d think that the opposite were true. Everyone loves a bit of banter, and the odd joke at the opposition’s expense, but much of this has crossed the line recently.

The Australian cricket team is not Al Qaeda for heaven sake. Nor are the English colonial devils who still say ‘tally-ho’ in every sentence.

I guess what I’m trying to say is the following: you don’t have to be thug to be good at what you do. Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray are fiercely competitive on the court. They’re aggressive in playing style, and fight right to the end, but they don’t resort to abusing their opponent. Nor do they kid themselves that being abusive gives them some kind of psychological advantage.

So when England get bowled out cheaply at Sydney over the next few days, or throw away a promising position through collective incompetence, take a deep breath and remember it’s only a game.

And when you get abused on Facebook and Twitter, remember that the abusers are the real losers, not the abused. Schadenfreude is for the stupid and the emotionally incontinent. Or am I just being melodramatic again?

James Morgan


  • Most hypocritical piece I have read on the www in years. You only have to read the following article by Maxine the buffoon to realise this! If you are serious about this you would stop posting articles by the comically over aggressive and abusive maxine. That you choose to blindly defend him rather than censor him says a lot about what you really think versus what you write above.

    • Maxine? Ah, I see what you did there. You implied an insult by using the feminine inflection of his name.

      Aww, you clever boy. Soon you’ll be in big school and no more potty-poos for you.

    • James here. We are not a political party. We don’t have a party line. I am not Maxie. Nor is Maxie me. We don’t always see things the same way, but I respect his opinions when we differ.

      Blogs are about creating debate, and saying things that aren’t necessarily popular. He doesn’t deserve abuse because he has a different view to you – which is why I defended him.

      You might have noticed that when you read newspapers, the different writers don’t all say the same thing. It’s the same in the C9 commentary box actually. Is Slats a hypocrite if he doesn’t agree with Bill on a certain point?

      A few other people also write on this blog – all views are welcome. Indeed, we’ve had Australians posting for us in the past. We welcome different views – anything that creates debate.

      What we don’t welcome, however, is obscure abuse that adds nothing to the discussion. We spam comments we think overstep the mark.


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