Sunday, 25 August 2019 06:44 GMT
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World Cup win maybe the start of an English cricket revolution




(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) It was arguably one of the greatest days for UK sport in living memory and, surprisingly (or perhaps not given the typical dire state of the Isles' male squads) not a single football was kicked.

In France, July 14, 2019 will merely be remembered for its annual Storming of the Bastille commemoration, though across the Channel, it will go down in history as a date athletic excellence took no prisoners, battering peoples' wildest expectations.

And much like the Gallic fortress invaders of 1789, one of Sunday's winners may have instigated their own revolution: an opportunity to cast off the shackles of relative obscurity and return to the 'green and pleasant land' of the sporting mainstream.

Aside from Britain's Lewis Hamilton breaking the record for the most home wins at the Silverstone Grand Prix and Centre Court at Wimbledon hosting a Herculean men's final, shockwaves from which spectators in the front row must still be recovering, Lord's Cricket Ground witnessed a match The Guardian wrote had sufficient drama and unbridled joy to unite a divided nation.

Scenes of euphoric patriotism from Trafalgar Square's fan zone were splashed across the front pages and beamed around the world on TV and online.

The focus of their rapturous jubilation? England's Jos Buttler running out New Zealand's Martin Guptill to seal the Cricket World Cup Final win. Who would have thought it? The reason for my surprise is, well, I happen to be English and thus all too familiar with the caustic relationship the population normally has with the game.

"It's so boring," Andrew Flintoff, the hero of England's unforgettable 2005 Ashes win, once revealed on his popular TV show, A League Of Their Own, is the largely unsolicited opinion he often receives when accosted.

I believe this misconception to be the result of one single factor, which when even slightly altered as witnessed over the weekend, can transform indifference to incandescent enjoyment. Three words: 'lack of access.'

On the whole a preserve of the historic public school system (which is private, but we don't have time to explore semantics), cricket is rarely taught beyond a few fundamentals within the community at large. State education may devote a smidge of the summer term to a watered-down version of the game, but the majority of young minds are never given a chance to get to grips with the intricacies and chess-like strategy involved in a Test or one-day affair.

Okay, so they could go home and watch it on television, you may argue. Alas, a home showing is only possible in England if you can afford it. For at least a decade, most if not all cricket has been aired behind a pay wall. And why would you fork out hard-earned money for something in which you have no interest in the first place? It's a vicious cycle. A huge factor in the nation joining in the boys in light blue's triumph was, for the final alone, broadcasters 'generously' put the output on free view. It could just have been enough, though.

Like England's victorious 2003 Rugby World Cup campaign catapulted national players into the limelight during the free-to-air tournament and the widespread coverage of the 2012 London Olympics heroics allowed enough people to discover the Games in order for a small nation like GB to go from a respectable third to second place in the medal table four years later in Rio De Janeiro, hopefully Sunday's glimpse into the Cup will lead to a greater demand for wider cricket reporting and inspire more to take up a bat and ball.
We're on top of the world right now, let's hope we remain.


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World Cup win maybe the start of an English cricket revolution

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