I have been a fan of the English team since 2005, when I watched the team triumph over Australia (and also when I fell in love with Test cricket). I like the English crowds (even when they boo Ricky Ponting); I love English summer cricket (not so much when it rains), and I like the pitches and grounds and the bowlers’ swing.
But as I watched the fearsome threesome run through the (depleted) Indian batting line-up at Lord’s this week, I confess to feeling a fair amount of ill-will. Broad, Anderson, and Tremlett are all formidable bowlers, made all the more impressive by their contrasting styles and ability to hunt in a pack — a talent perhaps only the South African quicks currently possess. On the other hand, both Anderson and Broad display dubious personalities; if one’s not whining or wallowing in self-pity, the other one is bullying umpires and throwing balls at opposition members. And to see these upstarts — mere 20-somethings — humble the likes of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman…well, “ill-will” is merely a euphemism.
Why do some bowlers gain certain reputations and respect, and not others? Anderson and Broad (and Tremlett/Bresnan) are a more than capable lot, and watching them do their thing — especially Anderson’s swing — is a real treat. But you don’t think of either as you do Dale Steyn or Zaheer Khan, right? Maybe in a few years, their reputations will be more firmly established, but now, they still come across like entitled prep boys out to get their privileged due. Gosh, look at me — these are the same players I egg on against the Australians and South Africans! Team loyalty: it makes for strange ex-bedfellows.