On the eve of the Ashes, talk and anticipation is building around Australia. But over in England, nobody really cares.
James Anderson suggested shelving sledging tactics for the duration of the series but a good dose of mongrel from the feral convicts is just what is needed to get the general public in England riled up and excited about one of the greatest sporting contests in the world.
Sports fans love to hate. While we appreciate seeing the greats like Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar grace our shores and can respect the gentlemen of the game, in equal measure the likes of Harbhajan Singh and Pat Symcox have added some spice to a long summer.
And Test cricket more than any other sport needs this element, no matter how absorbing five days of play can be for us tragics.
Forget about the gentlemen’s game, it’s not 1920. Gamesmanship, send-offs and trash talk are what the kids want to see. Sport is in the entertainment game these days. When was the last time you read an article that analysed an on-field sporting contest?
Controversy brings publicity, dollars and importantly for Test cricket, young fans. You can cry for the morals of society but this is the world we live in.
Cricket has been very proactive about moving with the times by embracing Twenty20 and the IPL with its mega contracts while trying to maintain the integrity of Test cricket. But the sport needs superstars to bring along the next generation of fans. Say what you will about Nick Kyrgios but Australian tennis is in the headlines. Nobody knows who Sam Groth and Thanasi Kokkinakis are.
Australian cricket has made it through the tricky period of replacing the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist while maintaining mainstream interest thanks to divisive characters like David Warner and Michael Clarke.
The general public don’t want to hear about hitting the top of off or textbook cover drives. They want characters and controversies. While Test cricket still has it diehard fans, at least for now, it is important to cater for the casual viewer.
The fact is that we don’t hear what is said out there unless the media beat it up anyway, so mind your sensibilities and let the players go about their business. Test cricket is fighting to stay relevant, afternoon tea breaks and cucumber sandwiches are not going to cut it.