“Equally to the point, and with due respect to the ICC, no one in England really cares much about the Champions Trophy except in its relevance to the genuinely momentous cricket that follows so hard on its heels.”
Those are the words of Christopher Martin-Jenkins, The Times cricket correspondent, and it will come as little shock to anyone that I agree with him. Furthermore, so do the vast majority of England (obviously – that’s his point, after all). But why? Why the apathy? Even if England had a team worth its salt, I question how deeply I would care. I always want England to win any sport – apart from if Wales are involved – but one-day cricket bores me, and a lot of my friends, stupid.
A mate asked me today, only half-joking, “will England ever win a one-dayer again?” My immediate response was “yes, of course” – and of course they will, and they may even do so this series against Pakistan. My indifference to the shorter game has been with me since I started watching cricket in 1993-94. To me, they were nothing more than warm-ups (or warm-downs) to the Tests, and smacked of commercialism.
I enjoy them, as far as you can enjoy such a quick game of cricket, but my overwhelming attitude and feeling is “yeah…but it’s not Test cricket”. I just can’t help that. And I don’t think England can. Not just the team, but the whole country! That old maxim “familiarity breeds contempt” is so true. Which is why I agree with Michael Atherton’s comments today that the forthcoming Champions Trophy is nothing more than a spurious, pointless precursor to the World Cup. I need my colleague in India, Sid, to remind me of something he said about Indians attitudes to the two formats. (if you’re reading Siddo, leave a comment)
Am I wrong? Do you like one-day cricket? I’ll leave Matthew Hoggard to end things:
“I enjoy playing Test matches. Any team on the day can win the World Cup. It takes two people to win a one-day international but a five-day Test is team against team.”
The counter to my attitude is this:
I, too, used to take the “so what?” line, have even written articles denouncing the formulaic nature of one-day cricket. But the brio with which India and Pakistan play it, that extraordinary run-fest in Johannesburg last month and the practical point that if we have to be part of it we may as well get good at it have prompted a change of view. Hiding behind traditionalism will no longer wash.
A good piece from Stephen Moss entitled “No wonder England fail to make one-day grade when even the BBC’s big-hitters go home” at The Guardian last April.