As the domestic international season has finished, and promotion and relegation from the championship has been decided, I’ve been doing some thinking. What sort of cricket fan am I?
Many years ago I loved sitting with the Barmy Army. I loved the songs, the beer, the “Ball and Chain” song, plus the general sense of camaraderie. And I loved wearing my Barmy Army shirt with pride. I still wear the first one I bought (the 1998/99 Ashes down under) in bed – even though it now resembles a dog-chewed rag with more holes in it than Harrison’s Harebrained Have-a-Hit.
But I was young back then. I could drink like a fish without falling over. These days I’m a grumpy old git who likes to complain about everything, including people who complain too much, and I don’t particularly care for noise either. Consequently I now fall into a completely different category of cricket fan: the pseudo-intellectual ‘seen it all before’ brigade who pretend to be above it all … until David Warner scores an Ashes hundred, we drop the pretence, and start singing the “God Save YOUR Queen” with bitterness coursing through our veins.
I thought it would be interesting exercise for everyone else to summarise what kind of supporter they are, and how they express their support, in the comments section below. I’ve come up with 5 very generalised categories to get the discussion going – although obviously there’s room for a ‘custom category’ of your own if you don’t like to pigeonhole yourself.
The Nail Biter
This poor sod is going to have a nervous breakdown before the game’s done. He’ll pace around the living room, slowly wear out the carpet, and occasionally hide behind the sofa when England are batting (especially if a world class spinner comes on). Adelaide 2006 nearly killed the poor guy, and unfortunately he hasn’t mellowed with age.
This obsessive worrier’s Mrs doesn’t understand why cricket is so important to him. He evidently cares more about the England team than his own health because he worries himself sick before the toss. She’s getting sick of finding half-eaten fingernails strewn around the coffee table, and often wonders what will happen if he ever develops ‘real’ problems … like his attention-starved wife walking out on him.
Sadly this neurotic punch-bag gets no joy from England victories – merely relief they haven’t been thrashed again. And when they do lose (sadly a regular occurrence) he descends into a pit of despair. He’s often found sat in the corner, rocking back and forward, with a haunted look in his eyes, whispering “Gary Ballance … Gary Balance … why oh why?”
The Lager Lout
Thus myopic halfwit is extremely prevalent down under. He’ll show his support by wearing his replica shirt with pride – with some stupid nickname adorned on the back – and buy his first pint at 10.45am before play even begins. In fact, he often puts cheap lager on his cornflakes.
An hour before lunch this degenerate boor will be half-cut and singing “Go Aussie Go” at the top of his voice. He’ll hurl some abuse at Stuart Broad, and point threateningly at England fielders with one hand whilst brandishing a foul-smelling meat pie (which he’s dropped on the floor but still plans to eat) with the other.
The lager lout will annoy just about everyone in the entire ground except the other lager louts, who all think he’s a legend. He’ll ogle the N-Power girls (remember them?), swear in the presence of children, and literally vomit when Joe Root reaches his hundred. His chant of ‘Rooooooooot’ will quickly turn to ‘Raaaaaaalphhhh’ as he regurgitates his tenth beer. Classy.
The Casual Fan
This highly respectable fellow loves a day at the cricket. “It sure beats being cooped up in the office”. He looks unassuming, wears his replica shirt out of duty not tribalism, and he’ll stick religiously to his two pint limit: one at lunch, and one in the tea break.
Basically Mr Casual Fan is your typical middle-class English bloke. He probably drives a Golf, loves Alastair Cook, looks up to Ed Smith, and thinks the ECB are generally managing the game quite well.
When England lose this happy-go-lucky chap, who has no real interest in the politics of the sport, will generally look on the bright side. He’ll point out that England’s home record is generally pretty good and that all teams struggle away; therefore everything in the garden is rosy. In fact the last time his blood pressure rose above normal levels was back in 1986 when he thought he saw Debbie Harry in John Lewis.
This harmless individual is loyal to all things England. He always visits the Lord’s shop – “buying merchandise helps boost cricket’s coffers” – and his sweatshirt and backpack are adorned with beautiful stickers for team sports. He considers each one a badge of honour as it shows his affiliation to England, Kent, and his local club. The lager lout will try to punch him before the day’s out.
The Tweed Wearer
This upper-class twit is mostly seen at Lord’s and occasionally The Oval. He’ll strolls around like he’s part of the furniture, which is ironic because the pavilion chairs have more personality than him, and he’ll spend most of day reading The Times rather than actually watching the cricket.
He’ll come to the cricket wearing his old public school cricket cap, which makes him look like a bit like WG Grace, and some days he wears his old woollen school cricket jumper too – even though it’s 75 degrees. He’ll rarely get excited during the day’s play, as jumping out of one’s seat is a tad uncouth, but he’ll soon leap into action if he sees Percy at the bar and thinks he can sweet-talk his way to a Pimms.
The Tweed Wearer has been going to test matches for 55 years, ever since his uncle Hugo took him to see John Edrich’s debut against those exotic West Indians. He’ll show his appreciation for a perfectly timed cover-drive by rhythmically slapping the top of his leg, and he’ll constantly bemoan the price of a pint – after all, why should the plebs in the Grandstand pay less than he does in the Long Room?
The Miserable Sod
This long-suffering stereotype, which probably fits at least 50% of any cricket crowd in England these days, has grown increasingly cynical down the years. He’s probably a county member, prefers ‘proper cricket’ to all this white ball crap, and considers the IPL an anathema.
The Miserable Sod has long-since tired of the mainstream cricket press. Instead he hangs around cricket chat-rooms, regularly vents his spleen on Twitter, and follows second-rate cricket blogs like The Full Toss. Why? Because he empathises with the editor’s jaundiced perspective on life. After all, he’s one of them.
Does the miserable sod wear official England gear to show his loyalty to the team? Of course not. The words ‘official’ and ‘England’ are enough to make his blood boil. He’d rather spend a lifetime in a Siberian labour camp than give money to those money-grabbing ECB b*****ds.
It’s hard to figure out this conflicted (some might say twisted) cricket fanatic. He says he loves the game, despite the fact nearly everything about it makes him miserable these days, and he tends to enjoy criticising England when they lose more than praising the team when they occasionally win.
But it’s not the Miserable Sod’s fault. He’s been driven to it. He’s like Gollum. He can’t let go of the precious game he loves, even though it’s rapidly turning him into a whingeing obsessive wretch. So he howls into the wind like a native American bemoaning the loss of his homeland to a bunch of cowboys.
So which kind of supporter are you? Go on. Be honest.
Written In Collaboration With StickerYou