The conventional wisdom on being a good fan is that you should be loyal to your side and support them through thick and thin. Yet watching the events in Adelaide this morning, I found myself rooting against England. I found myself rooting against my team.
Having started supporting the England cricket team in the early noughties, I’ve been fortunate to experience something of a golden era for English cricket. There have been some great victories in that time, notably the Ashes wins of 2005 and 2010/11 and the World Twenty20 triumph in 2010, but things have deteriorated rapidly over the past year or so.
It’s been tough to watch England trudge from humiliating defeat to humiliating defeat, but it’s the goings on off the pitch that have left me feeling most angry and disillusioned. They are the real reason why I had a wry smile on my face when Jimmy Anderson was bowled, knocking England out of the World Cup.
Through a series of nonsensical decisions, those in high places at the ECB have set this one-day side up to fail. Does your leading run-scorer in all forms of the game whistle when he gets out? Sack him! Are young players scoring big runs in county cricket? Leave them out! Did you give yourselves six months of ODI cricket to prepare for the tournament? Change captain a month before the World Cup! Is there a tournament where your players could play with and against the best in the world on a daily basis, thus improving their own game? Don’t let them play in it! I could go on.
Everyone wants their team to do well and the whole point of sport is to win, but maybe sometimes you need to take a step back before you can take any forward. Hopefully this latest embarrassment will lead to serious changes being made at the ECB, although I don’t hold out too much hope.
The notion of wanting your team to lose for the greater good is probably most prevalent in American sports, where the lowest-ranked team is usually rewarded with the first pick that year’s draft. In 2011, many fans of the Indianapolis Colts wished for their team to lose- or ‘Suck for Luck’- so that they would get the first pick in the draft and with it choose the much-hyped young quarterback Andrew Luck. The fans got what they wanted, and last season the Colts were the fourth best team in the NFL.
Short-term pain in exchange for long-term gain. It sounds more like a personal trainer’s mantra than a philosophy for sports fans to live by, but so often it can prove to be true. You don’t get to choose your national team, but you can choose whether or not you support them. It felt weird to be rooting against England, but why I should I support the team why I disagree so strongly with how it’s being run? Perhaps it is wrong, but it also felt right, and I know I was not alone.
Only time will tell if this defeat was for the greater good, but let’s face it, England can hardly get worse. I’m glad they lost, and truth be told I hope they lose again on Friday.