Well a big hello again from the crazy, Welsh, cricket-loving chick who likes to parade round cricket grounds, wine glass in hand and chatting to cricketers on the boundary and randoms in the crowd. It has been a WHILE!
Wednesday, 8th July was a great day. It was it Day 1 of the 2015 Ashes – a cricket competition I fell in love with 10 years ago, almost to the Test. Not only was I lucky enough to have a ticket, but I was asked to speak on Jason Mohammad’s BBC Radio Wales Ashes Show, talking about what the Ashes coming to Cardiff means for us here in Wales. As a huge Glamorgan Cricket fan, naturally I had plenty to say! The debate went well, the host was happy, not to mention my Nan, listening back home in Neath.
What has sparked this particular blog however came very swiftly after the radio interview had finished. A 40-something England fan who was sitting in the pub we were broadcasting from, had obviously been listening in as he strode up to where I was packing up my things and rather angrily asked me to reiterate my statement of when my interest in cricket began.
“2005.” I answered. “After we regained The Ashes.” I answered simply to what I KNEW was a loaded question. My suspicions were confirmed when he exploded into a tirade of abuse.
“How many Test matches have you been to see?” He asked me.
“Four, I think.” I replied, rather proudly. In the next few minutes, this man, single handedly, portrayed everything wrong with people’s attitudes towards the sport I love so much – I just WISH it had been caught on camera.
According to him, 4 Test matches seen ‘in the flesh’ does not qualify me to have a view on cricket or talk about it in public, regardless of the many Test Match DVDs I own and many hundreds of Tests I have watched on the TV or listened to on the radio, regardless of the hundreds of county cricket matches I have watched, not to mention local teams, regardless of the CRICKET BOOK I have written and had published four years ago, regardless of the hours of cricket chats I have had with my fantastic cricket-loving Twitter followers, regardless of the times I’ve spent in the commentary box with BBC Wales, BBC Essex and BBC London, regardless of all the time I give to publicising the sport that always comes second to football!
Even after all this, because I haven’t followed England to every Test match, he believes me to be a fraud. If time and money were no object, then I would happily follow England round the Globe, but I am happy the way I do things. I have a life, a job I love and I’m saving for a house. I simply cannot afford it! And neither can most! Does that make us any less of a cricket fan than this guy?
People were listening in on this conversation and if they weren’t cricket fans before, they’re certainly not going to become one now! It’s a FACT we need to start filling cricket grounds, and it’s this unwelcoming attitude that puts people off. I call them ‘The Crazies.’ The Crazies claim to know everything about cricket and look down on anyone who hasn’t watched it as much as them or for as long. I class myself as the total opposite. I love chatting to people with a ‘mild’ interest. They’re still unsure about calling themselves ‘cricket fans’ but they’re open-minded enough to give it a go, even if you can watch it for 5 days and still not get a result. We should be encouraging people, not scaring them off, making them feel inadequate and not ‘qualified’ to be a fan. In a word, I was disgusted.
What makes the situation even worse is that I know for a fact that he saw me as young(ish) girl, on her own, and therefore an easy target. I would bet my Ashes tickets that he would not have said anything to me if I was a man. As a writer of a cricket book aimed at getting women into cricket, I saw red at this point and called him out on it. He quickly walked back to his table. His poor wife apologised to me but all I wanted to do was apologise to her. At the end of day I wasn’t the one who had to live with an elitist arsehole.
The irony however, was that for all his bragging about all the England Tests he had been to, he was sitting in the pub next to the stadium, watching the Test match on the TV, two tickets short. I however, having just completed my radio interview, was standing there with three Ashes tickets in hand, when I only needed one.
No prizes for guessing what I did next…
That’s right, walked straight out the door and didn’t look back!
I’m going to finish this blog on a positive and tell you a true story. A story which I want this idiot from the pub to read. It’s about a cricket fan helping a cricket fan, and is a great reminder to all that cricket should be for everybody.
There is a gentleman who lives in Cardiff who can’t afford to go and watch Glamorgan play. He can often be found on the path by the River Taff that runs alongside the stadium. He can just about see the scoreboard and hear the faint sound of leather on willow. Cricket makes him happy and he would give anything to go in and watch a match, but he just can’t afford it. The mother of a good friend of mine, another big cricket fan, took the time to speak to him one day about what he was doing. She learned how much he loved the sport so she took his contact details and is going to provide him with tickets and take him into the ground this summer to watch Glamorgan play.
The fact that he is not a Glamorgan member like me does not make him any less of a cricket fan than I am. For all I know he could love the sport more I do – I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have the patience to stand outside a cricket ground for hours listening and not watching!
I just hope that people reading this blog embrace every type of cricket fan they come into contact with. If their love for the sport is just embers, don’t put it out with angry judgement, help fan the flames until they can burn brightly on their own.