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Stoked?

The State Of English Cricket.

You have to remember that English people fundamentally hate themselves. It’s evident throughout their society. You shan’t need cast your mind beyond B as witness. Brexit, bj’s, Boris? Brexit was a ‘fuck it’ vote, Dave Cameron got a bj from a dead pig and Boris Johnson is by design ineffectual.

These are the fundamentals of their culture. The formation of their people is lacquered with slimy self loathing that reeks of nihilism and classic British self deprecation.

As this latest version of ‘Englishness’ becomes more pronounced, we can see it no longer simply contained to culture, this worsening attitude has – to the detriment of cricket – infiltrated the nation’s sporting dribble. So, having just seen the European Summer of cricket that was, what would the state of English cricket be without Big, Bad, Benny Stokes?

Cricket On An Inferior Island

In my humbly inept opinion, had Ben Stokes not played those two unbelievable innings the enthusiasm and chat surrounding cricket in England would be dead.

His innings in both the world cup final and at Headingly made cricket outstanding and exciting for your everyday fan. It’s pitiful that the English rely on the shiny lights for the vigour – but they are a damaged people, I am not one to judge. I had a particularly intimate exposure to the old enemy this Summer. I am living in Amsterdam, and so geography states I am outnumbered by Britons. They all had lots to say, but did they really care?

The chat flying around pre world cup was as predictable as centuries from the Smith the savant. Every time, upon engaging an eager Englishman keen to hurl abuse in my direction, I could steadily sip my tepid ales and predict with certainty his talking points. ‘England are the best on day cricket team in the world’, ‘Australians can’t play against the Dukes’, ‘Jos Buttler is a weapon’, ‘Australian’s are cheats’… and so on.

I would enthusiastically retort with similar predictability. Australia does not give a hoot about coloured cricket outside of a world cup year, we have won five, how about you? Everyone’s ball tampering you silly bastard, Steve Smith has an African hunger for runs AND! England sporting teams the debilitating disease of ineptitude, they are seemingly all bottle jobs.

Does England Care About Cricket Anymore?

As the Summer developed and more cricketing chat ensued I noticed a worrying theme begin to circulate. It started to seem like cricket in England was not that popular after all. There was this big facade of interest, but I couldn’t help but feel as if they were just filling in time between ‘football’.

Everyone got around a world cup-ashes double header, but the sentiment I got from the horses mouth, as they say, was that only the rich people cared about the sport unless the Ashes was on hand. There is not a firm bedrock of support and interest for cricket over there like we have in Australia.

I went on to learn more about the English caste system and was very disheartened by the bitter truth. It’s hard for me to reconcile being an Australian. We have our social classes, sure, but cricket transcends them, rugby league transcends them, in Australia, sport transcends all of that, unless your talking about Polo. The only thing determining what sport your into is your postcode on our big beautiful land. And if you’re from Australia – you tend to get around the cricket. Rugby Union is typically private school footy – and the situation is the same in the UK, but it turns out cricket is even more so in this boat. Stuart Broad is as Cranbrook a head as you’ll ever see and unfortunately for the state of cricket in England, he is a clear representative of cricket’s English demographic.

So this was the general feeling, as I experienced rolling into the beginning of the Summer. What about after?

Did Ben Save The Interest?

Back to those two magnificent innings by Ben Stokes (born in New Zealand and still yet to win a world cup final). I think he saved cricket in England – at least for the foreseeable future.

He is a charismatic leader of men, a good rednut, from outside the caste system and a shit hot cricketer. Sport needs these blokes, and since English cricket’s last one was Kevin Peitersen – who threw them under the bus – the English are latching onto Stokes with typical pale skinned desperation. Given the level of cricket engagement by the general public outside of an Ashes series before this year – had England choked in the world cup and then suffered a defeat in the Ashes I think they would have on mass relegated back their soccer and allowed cricket to temper in mellow obscurity.

But big bad Benny Stokes turned it on and may have saved the code in it’s home. You need public interest to foster youth interest and you need youth interest to keep the wheels turning and lights on. Australians love their cricket. We produce specimen after specimen and despite sharp cultural changes we still get behind the boys in every series (either played at home or in England).

Like my low hanging fruit pun of a title suggests – the prosperity of English cricket is a dichotomy for Australians. I love to see English failure very much. It brings me pleasure to watch an Englishman in distress. However, I love an Ashes series more than anything – and despite the satisfaction of a would be 5 nil drubbing after 5 nil drubbing, it is made less fun when the old enemy stops caring.

So cheers Ben for maintaining the English cricketing pulse – you’ll never be good enough to comprehensively beat an Australian side, but I don’t want you and yours to get so bad that it’s not even worth our time.

Also – I guess your forgiven for the unch on? Did we ever get a final verdict on whether you were a protector or aggressor? Hmmmm, whatever – you’re good at sport seems like that’s more important.

Cheers.

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