Thereâ€™s plenty of ways to measure the health of cricket. How many people are paying to get in, of course. Television ratings, column inches, blog posts are another.
But there is a more intangible way of measuring the health of cricket, and that is in the emotional commitment of those same spectators to the game. One of the most delightful images to come out of the Headingley Test was actually a row of spectators, all dressed up in Superman outfits, with Monty Panesar style beards and turbans.
Of course, getting dressed up to go to the cricket is a long standing Headingley tradition. You can see a Batman & Robin duo in the photo, and a couple of Homer Simpsons, as well.
But in identifying with a particular player, these fans in the Super Monty Panesar outfits are making a statement- they are big fans of the guy, and really enjoy his efforts for England, to the point where they are willing to make an effort to show the world.
It is also a symbol, I think, that the emotional commitment between Englandâ€™s cricket team, and its fans, is in robust good health. It has in fact been in good health for a long time. Even in the darkest days of Englandâ€™s cricket in the 1990â€™s, the fans cared, and the England team have always responded to that. They were not always able to respond with runs and wickets, especially in Australia, but all three England captains Down Under made it pretty plain that they really got a kick out of the support that they got.