Jolly day out Loz Pycock

What comes to mind when we say we are British?  Many will immediately say the Queen, followed by tea or scones and then, much to my disgust, Cricket.  Why this is the case is beyond me; we are not actually very good at it. Australia and India are better at it, so surely it should be their thing and not ours? Can't Britain be known around the world for something else? Even croquet would suffice, since at least nobody pretends that it is a legitimate sport, and it can be played in heels with glass of Pimms in hand. There seems to be a general assumption that Cricket has the right to be a 'proper' sport – one which requires skill, effort and, above all, status.

The players give the impression of being lost and confused sheep, dressed up in their white woolly cardigans and little hats, strolling about with no real purpose or direction. The guy in the sunglasses – apparently the umpire – resembles a type of shepherd, shepherding the players with funky hand movements. The players appear to understand him, but not everybody speaks sign language or is practiced in the arts of tai chi!

Cricket is considered a gentlemens’ sport, and while there is nothing wrong with a knitted-jumpered bloke holding the door open for you, pulling out your chair or offering you a cucumber finger sandwich, it all seems too prim and proper. Sport should not be so sterile and polite, regardless of whether men or women play it, and there is just something lacking in sports where people wear all white. In other sports there is simply no need for ‘Trust Pink’ stain remover. Good sports require violence, guts, gore and action.

Getting stuck inflexgraph

At a cricket ground, there is no smell of beer burps or Cornish pasties as in a rugby club, where people swear at the top of their voices and slate the referee for being too short, fat and slow (‘The Referee’s A…’). There are no fake injuries, booing and chanting from crowds or slating referees at a football stadium (‘You’re not fit to referee!’). There is just no ’umph’. It seems that, for the majority of the match, players are lolling and watching, chatting and weather-commenting, rather than batting or fielding. In fact, this sport is so dry that it becomes very difficult to distinguish the spectators from the players – both are doing nothing. It's more like bird watching really.

Another pet peeve about Cricket is the ‘holy’ square. There is more care and attention put into a specific chunk of grass than there would ever be in Kensington Palace Gardens. The whole purpose of grass is to be natural and free, not cornered, cut and constrained.  God forbid, but if you were to walk on this sacred piece of land, you certainly would suffer a worse fate than if you tiptoed across the front lawn at King’s! At least at King’s there is a ‘don’t walk on the grass’ sign; the power that comes with it has made everyone too fearful to even consider transgressing, let alone need reminding that it is not appropriate. Perhaps cricket squares should be considered signs of prohibition – for one matter, it would save many from being harangued by angry groundsmen.

Many will disagree and contend that there is a great deal of pride that should come with a sport like Cricket which has become symbolic of our green and pleasant lands. Even if I cannot convince you otherwise, I do hope one day you will see the error of your ways and come to regard Cricket for what it is: refined hopscotch really.