England Turns Its Back On The Summer Game

The UK is hosting the Cricket World Cup at the moment. This is a big thing. I remember the time when most of the country would have been following it and it would have been one of the main topics of conversation, whichever nation was staging it. But, it is as if it is not happening. The lampposts in my local town are draped with Cricket World Cup banners because I would guess, one of the matches is to be played at County Durham’s home ground which is down on the riverside. But I have no idea which teams will be playing and when it is happening.

The reason for this national ambivalence is simple; it is not being shown on the BBC and in England, at least, if it is not on the BBC, it is not real (think of it as a Schrödinger’s cat sort of thing). I assume that one of the commercial satellite franchises has bought the rights to screen it and, in doing so, has destroyed the sense of communal ownership that used to be attached to such important sporting events back in the days when all major competitions were televised on one of the universally available terrestrial channels. People often complain about the lack of community in England in the present day. The tribalisation of television on paid-for special interest channels (that are far too expensive to watch for a huge chunk of the population) is not the only explanation for our increasing isolation from each other, but it is one of the most insidious and pernicious ones.

Mind you, Auntie is getting her revenge and in doing so is changing the national zeitgeist. The BBC has won the rights to broadcast the Women’s Football World Cup and it is really bigging it up in a way that the woman’s game has never been bigged up before (at least, not since the Football Association banned it in 1921 because it had become too popular for its patriarchal liking). I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that as football is the far more popular of our two national games, more men will be watching the Lionesses’ skilful performances of the beautiful game on the BBC than watching the cricket even if they subscribe to whichever satellite channel is showing it. It could easily be a case of jam today, Marmite tomorrow for the greedy blighters who run men’s cricket and it will damn well serve them right. Howzat!


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