The Australians have had their cloak of invincibility torn off by a resurgent England in the finals of the one-day series. Or should that be their pants of invincibility pulled down? Whichever, you’d think that after being humiliated in the Ashes, England’s win might rate a mention in the British news. Perhaps even a spot of belated gloating.
But no. The front pages of the Independent and the Guardian carry no mention of it, leading instead with the admissions of pot smoking by a possible future PM. Click through to the sport pages and it’s all English football and rugby. The Sun mentions the cricket win but only in passing. The BBC headed its sports coverage with France’s rugby win over Ireland, with the cricketers rating at least one story: “England seal historic one day win.”
The Times Online seems a little more interested, carrying this solitary match report:
In Sydney on Sunday, [England] gave Australia a game for the third time in a row and for the third time they beat them. Not narrowly, not luckily, but clearly and deservedly, and their reward was the Commonwealth Bank Trophy, the first prize they have taken away from Australia in 20 years…
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English cricket has hit many lows but rarely has it lifted itself quite so unexpectedly and spectacularly. Australia is one of the hardest places to win and with the World Cup looming Australia had the bit between their teeth.
And then later, just a hint of get-back:
It would be interesting to hear Australian excuses for losing to a team widely lambasted by the Australian public as unfit for the purpose and the worst team ever to leave these shores. So what was it then, boys? Bad luck with injuries? Bad luck with the toss? Cricket not really your sport?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by this apparent lack of interest. Cricket runs a distant second to football in the UK, and when your national team has only just begun performing like one, it’s easy to ignore them.
It’s also easy to forget that fighting for space on the English sporting radar is a constant struggle for cricket, one-day cricket in particular, a fact which makes recruiting the nation’s talented young sportspeople a difficult task. How many Freddy Flintoffs are earning a hundred times the salary playing for Man U, Liverpool, or Chelsea? And could you blame them?
There’s a less charitable view. The English press is simply giving one-day cricket and a ho-hum triangular series its due. When the World Cup kicks off in March, the ICC will be hoping the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the tournament gets their sport a little more airtime in cricket’s homeland.