England’s progress in the last 12 months couldn’t have come at a better time for them and the sport – almost literally. Following their Ashes success, significant improvement in the One-Day game which has culminated with a rare bilateral series win over Australia and the ICC World Twenty20 success, it seems that more and more sports fans are being won over by Andrew Strauss’s men.
All the more so since England’s footballers put in the kind of dismal World Cup performance that hardcore cricket fans have been all too used to seeing from the men in blue, particularly since their in 1992.
The footballers’ efforts have been pilloried in the press, on social networks and in pubs and clubs up and down the country and with fans desperate to support a winning team, they are instead switching their support to the England cricketers.
A recent survey carried out by www.prizeboom.com (which is offering free tickets to the see Pakistan in action later this month against Australia and in September against England) revealed that 95% of respondents believe the England cricket team deserve greater praise from the British public.
“Football is England’s passion but when players are earning obscene sums of money to turn in abject performances and let their country down, it’s a bitter pill to swallow,” Farnaz Khan, website founder said.
“In sharp contrast our cricket team is flourishing and are amongst the best in the world, something the whole country can be proud of.
“I think the public are sick of seeing the likes of John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole constantly in the media and appreciate that England’s cricketers go about the job in a professional manner.
“Cricket is a civilised game where you’re allowed to drink in the stands and I can’t think of anything nicer than a day in the sun watching real men compete.”
Meanwhile, there has been a massive surge of tickets for the fifth and final ODI at Lord’s – where England will attempt to seal an unprecedented 4-1 success over Australia (4-1 being of course the same score by which the footballers exited South Africa at the hands of Germany).
Europe’s largest online ticket marketplace, www.viagogo.co.uk, has reported been a 200% increase in searches for cricket tickets.
“Since the England football team has returned home early from the World Cup, Brits are desperate to see England reclaim its sporting prowess,” Ed Parkinson, Director of viagogo uk said.
“With viagogo, fans are guaranteed they will be able to buy tickets safely and securely to any sold out event, including tickets for international and domestic cricket matches.”
So, with tickets in huge demand and cricket seemingly more popular than ever, it helps that England has found the winning habit – not forgetting that since Andy Flower took over as Team Director, they have won an ODI series in South Africa, drawn a Test series in the same country, advanced to the Champions Trophy semi-finals and beaten Bangladesh in seven out of seven matches.
And that is enough, in the eyes of star off-spinner Graeme Swann, to ensure that this group of cricketers deserve to be hailed as cricket’s own ‘golden generation’, a term for so long associated with the likes of Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard, who have failed to live up to the tag and in cold, hard terms, delivered nothing.
"It would be nice to think that we are the golden generation rather than the footballers," Swann said. "We wanted England to do well in the World Cup, that was a big let-down."
An let-down it certainly was, but it appears to have done cricket no harm at all.
© Cricket World 2010