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
I am not sure if I fit any of these stereotypes but if I had to pick one I suppose it would have to be the “miserable sod”! My wife calls cricket ‘my church’. I love the game and have been lucky to play at a decent standard – a bit of minor counties, international representation at the Associate level so, while not an Athers or a Hussain I do know a bit about the game. While missing out watching such players as Hobbs, Bradman, Headley and Verity, I have been so lucky to have lived through a truly golden age of some wonderful players since the 1950’s.
I admit I do not like T20 and even ODI is beginning to wear a bit thin. Not sure why, it seems a good lime but I see the not-so-subtle changes in that game providing more bias toward batting and hitting over the boundaries as counter –productive to the game’s innate strategies.
I am old enough to be able to go to county games when I am in the UK and I always attend the Lord’s test – yes, I am a member and do wear the eggs and bacon tie on at least one day! I love test cricket and watch for hours on the TV as I am blessed with an endless stream of games when on, from around the world, on my local TV feed.
I still enjoy England winning but it is a sidebar to the occasion. Much more important is watching the technical accomplishments of a skilled batsman building an innings over a day or two or the skill of a bowler teasing whatever help is in the conditions to beguile a batter into forfeiting their wicket. Watching a strategy unfurl or the tactical nuances employed by either a batter or a bowler is nectar to this fan. A Lawrence Rowe caressing the ball through the covers or a Jimmy Anderson toying with his prey brings goose bumps to the skin!
As pompous as it may sound, I find cricket one of the most intellectual challenges displayed in a sporting arena in the long form with all the differing impacts that are brought to bear. Not only are the skills of the protagonists important but also the impact of the environment, the effect of wear on ball and pitch and the priceless element of time management. It is for me a sort of chess with parts that are constantly moving on changing boards!
No matter how many runs are scored, cricket’s fundamental aim is to take twenty wickets to win a game, therein lies the rub of limited over games. That fundamental tenet is removed.
That’s a splendid comment. Love it :-)
So only people who have played first class cricket have ever actually played cricket?
I can’t accept that, sorry. Test cricket may be the pinnacle of the professional game , but the joy and strength of cricket is in the variety of fantastic formats employed.
How about the ‘not supporting England’ (ever more so since the never to be forgotten/forgiven KP affair) fan of cricket, & by cricket I of course mean ‘proper’ cricket.
Despairs of the direction the game is being steered towards by the money men & actively cheers the opposition (barring Australia of course as how could anyone like them? & India as they have ruined the game more than even the ECB could possibly hope to) against England.
Takes in a couple of county fixtures (4-day) a year & only watches ODI’s in World Cup or Champions Trophy.
Increasingly seeks solace leafing through Wisden reading about Chris Tavare.
That last bit sounds exactly like me! We really have no life mate :-)
Miserable sod unfortunately, albeit one a little more preoccupied with the county game than internationals. Hate the ECB with a passion.
I am Sean.
Cross between miserable sod and the poor sod who lives every ball..
Just wish they’d realise it’s supposed to be a game of tactics, skill and balance and get rid of limited overs stuff at amateur level
None quite match, but “miserable sod” is definiltely closest! Not quite that miserable, though….
I hide behind sofas during England’s batting efforts and I never think we’ll win a game on the 5th Day. A 10-run partnership for the opposition? Disaster. A 10-run partnership for England? It’s going end quickly. I’ve been scarred too much by the late 80s and 90s watching this England team, and still watch it fervently.
Days that games are on and I’m away from the telly I probably spend more time addicted to my CricInfo that I do doing anything else. I might as well have stayed at home.
I watch all kinds of cricket and I love it, and get the IPL. I also hate the World Cup prices.
I have a lot of knowledge of the game, and I don’t drink, but don’t mind people being hammered at games – as long as they don’t spill their beer all over me.
I miss the Windies at cricket matches because the air smelled better.
This sounds like me. Mixture of nail-biter and someone who loves the game for it’s own sake, probably would love it more if the West Indies could win more at test cricket. I like all formats though test cricket has that painful feeling that the others can’t provide and T20 is pretty much just for fun, but fun it is.
I think what sort of supporter you are depends on those around you when growing up. If you are exposed to general sporting enthusiasm, where you latch onto team support, going to you local matches regularly, then you will inevitably be philosophical at best over success rate. Very few teams in any sport win regularly. Those that do are generally the more wealthy with access to overseas talent to supplement local and domestic. In cricket this is less of an issue than footie or rugby. though Surrey’s success this year is probably more due to a certain Mr Morkell than anyone else.
A true supporter in any sport I believe will actively support his or her team, which means relatively easy access is important. As people move around more these days, who you support may change with location. This applies especially in cricket, where the enthusiast is more into the sport than a team. In footie, fans tend to be lifetime supporters and couldn’t visualise changing alliegeance.
Though I’ve always been a Warwickshire man, if I moved away permanently I would be quite prepared to pay membership fees and watch my new local county, however this doesn’t compromise support for your old county. I would still keep tabs on how my old county was doing, and if my new county played them I would support my old, whereas in footie I couldn’t visualise being anything other than a Blue Nose, wherever I lived.
It’s a lot to do with your attitude when at the match. Footie and Rugby are more about beating the opposition, or at least not losing, with at best grudging praise for your opponents, who you spend much of the match looking to undermine with chants and ridicule. Though you want your team to win at cricket there’s nowhere near the active antagonism against your opponents, except maybe an ashes test. It’s more about memorable moments in a game, whoever they come from and the general atmosphere of being immersed in a sport, not an occasion. I believe all this makes you more philosophical and less reactive. In retrospect, most of the memories I most treasure concern non Warwickshire players, though your own players achievements seem more important at the time.
As far as internationals go things are slightly different, as you don’t switch allegiance if you move abroad. Here, inconsistenties like all England supporters experience, result in frustration as we look to apportion blame. As we live in a blame culture this is inevitable so we become, ‘The Miserable Sod’.
Being a ‘mere female’ I of course go to cricket to get a sun tan (if I’m lucky in England) and to admire Liam Plunkett’s fabulously muscled legs. And I travel abroad for the sunbathing and partying and hope that I’m staying in the same hotel as the players so I can swoon over the gorgeous Alistair (no more, alas) and the rest…..
Really Maggie you should get to some Rugby. Maybe you do. Plunkett would then be put in perspective.
All those tight arses, skin tight tops showing off the pecs and battle scarred faces. I would have thought they would be irresistible. They certainly have more of a party animal culture too.
Good lord, you think I could understand Rugby? Cricket is difficult enough as we are constantly told.
I used to be an enthusiastic England fan who went to test cricket every summer without fail. As with most people I knew in the 90s, I couldn’t give a monkeys about odis, didn’t watch them, and would have preferred if they did not exist.
Like many people I grew up in a non first class county and thus had no interest in the domestic game.
Nowadays I’ve lost interest in England. I still love test cricket as a neutral, and I’ve developed an interest in the t20 cup, and vaguely support Notts and Somerset.
I’m more interested in playing and coaching than supporting a team tbh.
Supporter of the game above and beyond any particular team.
I’m reluctant to be boxed into a specific category but I’ll have to settle for miserable sod. I was a Yorkshire member years ago and I’m now a Worcester lifer. Occasionally I’ve thought about quitting England but it’s cricket, above anything else that’s kept me here, in spite of the best efforts of the ECB, who I hate, to alienate me. The CC is my game and I go to as many matches as I can. As this means negotiating the M5, I don’t drink, other than an occasional half. Shame really. I’m quite happy to sit on my own, sometimes deliberately to avoid the mindless prattling of others, but it’s more fun to go with well-informed mates or talk to like-minded folks at the ground. Most cricket supporters are decent people, irrespective of alliegance. To my surprise, I’m seriously considering signing up for the T20 package next year – amazing what a dollop of success can do.
I do shout at cricket programmes on the box and have been known to use very foul language. My shouting is not confined to cricket programmes. I’ve 25 or so Wisdens. I look forward to publication even though I’m more disinclined to disagree with opinions expressed than I used to be. I’m happy to see the growth of the women’s game but that doesn’t mean that I welcome all women commentators (Mel Jones is best). I’ve followed the game since the early/mid 50s. Yep, I guess that makes me a miserable sod/old git.
Somewhere between nail biter and miserable sod! I am not sure an England defeat sends me to the pit of despair as much these days though.
India win by an innings and 272 runs. WI lose 20 wickets in under a 100 overs. Yes, ICC and all the member boards, this is the world you’ve created. Apart from Kohli, Jadeja et al’s stats, who is benefitting from this?
Meanwhile the new era of elite mateship and lineage isn’t off to the most flying of starts. Yasir Shah, through a mixture of injury and scheduling, is playing his first test in almost exactly a year.
Good to see Peter Siddle back in Test cricket and out-bowling everyone else in the match so far.
Still apparently only extreme pace and mystery spin can be successful on these sorts of pitches. I’ve heard Nasser say it again and again so it must be true.
Oh good, another “home team win toss and effectively win the match” Test taking shape. We’ve just not had enough of those lately. The fact that Australia are on the receiving end helps a little – but only a little.
Nice to see that the boards have scheduled the match for Sun-Thurs when UAE can get good crowds on Fri and Sat and that they’ve signed a particularly restrictive TV rights deal as well. Not like they’re trying to kill off Test cricket or anything…..
To be fair, the Aussies had a good stand for the opening wicket. That they then go on to lose all ten wickets for 60 runs, is not solely due to the pitch. Batting ineptitude also plays its part.
A middle order of Mitchell Marsh (at 4!), Head and Labuscagne looks a little bit light on paper, the last two of them making their debuts.
Still point taken: it could hardly be less interesting had Australia won the toss.
The Australia team looked pathetic on paper and it’s delivering.. it’s actually worse than the England red ball team!! Some achievement in itself. Red ball is in serious trouble and still no one owns up to the fact.
Oh and the ECB have spanked all their money
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