England is in a paradigm shift of sorts with the impetus going more into the sphere of cricket in place of football. Bulky footballs are being replaced by smaller, harder, leathery cousins. And why not? The cricketers have always played second rung sports icons to the nation that introduced the sport, always overshadowed by the football gods that have enamoured the Brits for decades. It’s their time to shine in the sun while the footballers return with the shame of one of the worst World Cup campaigns ever.
England have had to face two strikingly contrasting sports events in the past few months as Paul Collingwood-led T20 cricket team won the World Cup in April while Steven Gerrard’s team, studded with stars like Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and the likes were kicked out without even making it to the quarter-finals.
The T20 World Cup exploit is no fluke either. The team has truly hit a purple patch, which can be assessed by the drubbing of cricket super power Australia in the ongoing ODI series.
England cricket could not have found a better timing to bloom with full fervour as the recent success and football’s utter failure has brought them to the limelight for the first time. The team that includes lesser celebrated but amazingly talented blokes like Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Craig Kieswetter, Graeme Swann and Ryan Sidebottom has earned accolades after years of purgation through the fires of disappointment.
Michael Vaughn marked the beginning of the transformation in 2005, winning the Ashes urn. It was Andrew Strauss’ turn to carry the evolution further as he got his hands on the title again last year. From there on, it has been a constant accent up the mountain for English cricket with all the captains rescuing the teams from turmoil to give win after win.
Be it the NatWest series, Tour of West Indies, Bangladesh or the Tests in South Africa, the English team not only threw stiff competition at their rivals, but also emerged victorious.
They have used the limited pool of talent and the dearth of massive iconography for their good. The pacers have stuck to their line and length; the traditionally dormant spinners have started tweaking it with vengeance at a time when the art is at an all time low in its cradle of birth, the sub-continent. This is particularly a good sign as the upcoming ODI World Cup will give them ample time to turn the game on the Indian and Sri Lankan turfs.
With the tide in their favour, if Strauss’ men can win their elusive maiden World Cup, it will be a jolt for all the footballers who have become too used to the multi-million dollar checks and the hottest chicks. A nation needs sports icons who have endured the test of time and inspired and on this count, its time for the game of cricket to flourish in the land of the Queen after a long hiatus.