Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Sporting English

So the England-Pakistan test match is over a day early, with Pakistan collapsing for just 80 in the second innings.

English sport has always seemed to lack the professional ruthlessness of other countries. I think the English have always been uneasy with professionalism in sport, as though it undermines the spirit of sport, the British sense of fair play. After all, we didn't invent these sports so that people could make money out of them. This sense of 'fair play' has pervaded into the professional era. How often have you seen an English team or player narrowly win (or even lose) a seemingly obvious victory because they seemed to lack the killer instinct to mercilessly dispatch an inferior opponent? English teams have rarely, if ever, won convincingly. Deservedly, yes. But not convincingly. Leave it to the Aussies or South Africans to show us how to win consistently, even against superior talent, always with spirit and determination, rarely unconvincingly.

Yet, this summer saw inspirational performances from an English team that, above all other accolades in my mind, has proven it can ruthlessly dispatch inferior foes. I saw first hand an English 20/20 cricket team that was not only exciting to watch, but showed that methodical level-headedness of consistent winners. Collingwood keeps talking about confidence, and I think that's part of it, but the main part is British sports people being unapologetically professional. And what better sport to laud the rise of a truly professional attitude in England? Let's see the other sports take heed when representing our country.
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