Barmy Army beware: the Fanatics are waiting

The Barmy Army have been called many things – delightful, charming and eloquent aren’t often among them. When England were in the doldrums in the early 1990s, the Barmies’ antics on tour were considered irritatable, pointless and loutish by many. That soon changed, though, through clever marketing and a general appreciation from the public and media. England were losing Test matches with an ease not seen for decades, yet here were hundreds of fans cheering them on.

They were quite influential during last summer’s Ashes, too. Or, if they weren’t there en masse in England, their cheerleaders were and gradually helped spread Ashes fever among the “normal” crowd through the series. They’ve had quite an impact I’d say. What, then, do you make of this?

The MCG, which has been renovated since England played there four years ago, will be bursting with 100,000 supporters for the first two days of the Boxing Day Test. And there are plans to take on the Barmy Army, too. The Australian version of the Barmies – the Fanatics – will have a battle bus at every match and singer/songwriter Greg Champion – Australia’s answer to Chas & Dave – will perform during lunch and tea breaks. But the Barmies are old hands at Aussie-baiting. They are busy adapting Tony Christie’s Amarillo for Shane Warne. He will not like the results.

Never heard of the Fanatics myself. Scott? Any other Aussies reading? Can’t wait for “Show me the way to Amarillo.” Suggestions for Shane Warneing it below, please.

Bath Dodgers to continue to taunt convicts

Big-mouthed banter between English and Australian supporters is set to continue despite hyper-sensitive ICC officials worried about racism.

The Fanatics and the Barmy Army yesterday both vowed to ignore “political correctness gone mad” and continue peppering opposing teams and fans with good-natured banter this summer.

Their comments come in response to suggestions the old barb “Pommy bastard” may fall foul of cricket’s crackdown on crowd racism.

The issue came to a head this week when an ICC report found “premeditated racist abuse occurred toward South Africa and Sri Lanka during the past Australian summer.

But Cricket Australia’s stance on Australia and England’s friendly feud is over-cautious, according to the Barmy Army representative in Australia Craig Gill.

“Where will it ever stop?” Gill asked. “‘Pommy Bastard’ has been used for years and years and it’s going to be used over and over again.

“As long as it’s said in the name of good humour and good banter no one is going to get upset.”

“Bring it on I say … we’ll definitely be singing about Aussie convicts coming here in chains.”

Last night an England cricket spokesman agreed, saying from London: “It would be more of a surprise if we didn’t hear it (Pommy bastard). Some of the lads probably see it as a term of endearment.

“One of the great attractions of an Ashes series is the fierce competition and good spirit.

“But everyone in world cricket is aware there’s a fine line between fierce rivalry and racism that should never be crossed.”

Which gives me the notion that I should distribute bars of soap to the Barmy Army when they come to Adelaide this summer!