Amazing cricket, anguished fans

Three to winWhat. A. Match! Wow!! To watch a match like today’s Sri Lanka versus England match live is what makes cricket so much fun. While the World Cup so far, and most definitely the matches in Antigua, have been very one-sided, today’s match was amazing.

England bowled well to keep the Sri Lankans to 235. And then they batted well to stay in the match – for the most part. They sort of lost the plot in the middle and it looked like Sri Lanka might win handily. But Ravi Bopara and Paul Nixon came together and they batted brilliantly. Last over – England needed 11 to win. Last ball – England needed 3 to win…

The stadium was packed with English fans. Where are all the Sri Lankan fans? There were barely a handful and a big chunk of them were Indians who were rooting for Sri Lanka – like us.

Now, I’m perfectly fine being in the minority, but I’ve never really watched a match with English fans. While the large majority cheer their team and behave like “normal” fans, there are a handful that behave disgracefully. The problem starts because they drink non-stop. A bunch of guys around us were never without a beer and the few seconds their cups were empty was when they were walking to get more beer. That’s fine if you can handle your liquor, but some of them can’t.

So, around the 40th over, when it seemed like England was going to lose (before the Bopara/Nixon run-fest), there started to be loud cries of “Cheaters” hurled at the Sri Lankans. Excuse me?!?! Then, there was an incident when Sri Lanka appealed a tad excessively, the “Cheaters” and “Cheating” cries re-emerged. When does appealing constitute cheating, folks? Never, that’s when!

Then comes the final over. The final ball is due to be bowled. Three runs needed off one ball… Fernando runs up to bowl and completes his action – but where’s the ball? It never came out of his hand! Dead ball is signalled by the umpire. Now, I don’t know why that happened – if he had a glitch or if it was intentional. If he felt that he couldn’t deliver the ball the way he wanted, he is fully within his rights and within the rules of the game to not deliver the ball.

But it was very clear what the vocal English fans around us thought. Screaming, yelling, “Cheaters” “Disgraceful – that was disgraceful”. One of the guys yelling was right behind me, so turned around to get a quick peek and I noticed he was yelling looking at us (assuming, naturally, that we were Sri Lankan). It was almost frightening to see how upset and angry they were. I can understand disappointment, but letting their anguish get to the point where they lose all judgement? These are grown, adult men, behaving like children who can’t deal with losing a game. Disgusting. What was truly disgraceful is how these English fans behaved.

I never want to watch another match where England is playing. England, much like India, is a pathetically unpredictable team. They can be brilliant, but more commonly, they collapse dramatically without a moments notice. So their fans are likely going to be upset a lot. Who wants to deal with this kind of nonsensical behavior?? And remember, the English cricket fans are supposed to be leagues better than the English soccer fans!

Sorry, back to the match. Re-bowl the last ball. BOWLED HIM. Shattered the stumps. Silence all around. The handful of Sri Lankan supporters, us included, stand up and yell and scream “Yeah, baby!! Clean bowled!” (Well, to be honest, I said the “Yeah, baby” bit πŸ™‚ ) The Sri Lankan team get in their huddle, celebrating. Amazing. Seven hours of play and it all comes down to the final ball.

This is why I love cricket! I could not have asked for a more brilliant match to end our wonderful sojourn in Antigua.

Sri Lanka win

Photograph credits: Me πŸ™‚

  • libertarian

    Thanks for the excellent coverage. Yep, hope the Lankans go all the way. Need a change from the Aussies.

    The English fans are a far cry from the “tea with lemon and cucumber sandwich” crowd. You may even have needed some of your karate skills πŸ™‚

  • Wait, and Indian and other fans don’t do this? I’ve watched plenty of cricket around the world, and what you describe is certainly not unique to English fans. Never heard an Indian fan call Shoaib a cheat?

    Somebody uses foul language, somebody else hurls insults, somebody else hurls bricks, and yet someone else wastes a fully roasted chicken on Pat Symcox. To each their own. Some think questioning a batsman’s parentage is fine, but you should appeal politely. Others think you should keep your mouth shut, but it’s okay to appeal three times in succession, at increasing volume, for the same incident.

    As for the specific incident, what Dilhara did was within the laws of cricket. So was Bodyline, and many other things that are frowned upon.

    I’m sure the anthropologists have looked at this somewhere. One man’s meat and all that.

  • Shripriya

    @ Libertarian – Yes, I am rooting for a Sri Lanka too. Any South Asian team, please! πŸ™‚

    @ Forth Umpire – I watched my cricket in India when I was much younger, so I don’t recall taunting. I am sure it happens across the world, though. All I will say is that I watched matches with Australians and other supporters (in Antigua) and the only ones I heard it from was the English. Everyone else, while boisterous, stayed away from whining incessantly and hurling accusations.

    And re: the Dilhara incident – I am not sure why it happened. What if he just couldn’t get the ball out normally? That happens – we’ve all seen it. Just not on the last ball!