Cricket is Dead: Long Live Greyhound Racing

Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA

A Government funded organisation called Sport England has given the English Cricket Board a total of £27,500,000 of taxpayersí money in order to harness Ďthe inherent appeal of the game within South-Asian communitiesí.

Isnít that racist?

I canít help thinking that if I offered the ECB £27,500,000 to spend on harnessing Ďthe inherent appeal of the game within English communities they would, with some reluctance no doubt, report me to the proper authorities.

But what a waste of taxpayersí money this is.

Cricket is a dead sport. No one watches it, no one talks about it, no one cares a damn about it. It is now a sport run entirely for bookies (who make fortunes out of manipulating match results) and held together by the cash rich marketing departments of huge, public companies who donít know how to measure the fact that no one watches, talks or cares about cricket any more.

The only spectators are the bankers and advertising moguls sitting at the back of the expensive corporate boxes quaffing champagne and sucking down oysters. And they arenít really spectators since they donít even notice when rain or bad light stops play.

According to figures published in the Financial Times, cricket is now so far behind football and horse racing and rugby union in popularity that it has become a minority sport. The figures show that cricket now has as many spectators as rugby league, which is never watched by anyone south of Leeds, and just a few more than greyhound racing.

A few years ago, when cricket was shown regularly on terrestrial television, cricket was Englandís national sport, superior to football in popularity. Football was allowed in, as a temporary guest, only when the cricket season was in hibernation. Arthur Milton was the last man to play both cricket and football for England. But he was more famous for being a cricketer than for being a footballer.

Denis Compton, the most famous batsman of the immediate post World War II period, was said to be able to score a century with the aid of any old piece of wood. Rumour had it that he had once scored a double century with a piece of floor board taken from the Lordís dressing room. He, like other major cricket stars, was a legend in his own lifetime but though he played football for Arsenal it was a cricketer that he was famous. (Oddly enough, when I recently put Denis Comptonís name into a search engine, I found him described as a Ďfootballerí. That really says it all.

Cricket died because money hungry administrators sold the broadcasting rights to satellite television, with the result that the viewing figures fell from several million to an audience suitable for a single living room. Inevitably, the gameís popularity has waned. It was all so predictable, and surely a warning to other sports. The England Cricket Board destroyed cricket in England as effectively as if they had burned all the bats and ploughed up all the cricket pitches. A sport which used to be Englandís national game has become a novelty, about as much a part of our modern sporting scene as weightlifting and table tennis.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2018

Taken from Life on the Edge by Vernon Coleman, available on Amazon as an ebook. Vernon Coleman is the author of a number of books on cricket including The Village Cricket Tour, Winsdenís Cricketing Almanack, Diary of a Cricket Lover and Around the Wicket. These are all available on Amazon as ebooks.