Despite speculation in the press concerning Andrew Strauss’ future, the England captain has the complete support of the Barmy Army, says Allan Fairlie-Clarke.
With no fort to protest from, there was nothing for it but to bite the bullet and pay the Rs5,000 to get into the P Sara Oval and for those of us that did, it was definitely worth it. England’s performance in the field was incredible in the draining heat (so hot that Matt Prior lost 3.5 kg in the first session of the day) and we impressively finished the stronger of the two sides. AOC diarist Steven Finn summed up the performance of his fast bowling partner Jimmy Anderson as “exceptional”, and there is really nothing to be added to that.
From a fans’ perspective, the performance once again illustrated the dedication of the England team to their captain, even though the media chatter about Straussy’s role as skipper being in the balance continues to crescendo.
The phenomenon of the sports media dictating the debate appears to be an oddity constrained to the game of cricket. In football we see fans clamouring for the manager’s head and bemoaning the performance of their players on almost a weekly basis. A plethora of phone-in shows have emerged as a result – and then the football media take up the call and echo the thoughts of the fans to their readers, listeners and viewers.
In cricket, the media seem to be setting the agenda. None of the discussion on the beaches of Unawatuna had anything remotely to do with the perceived shortcomings of Strauss as captain. Any criticism was directed at the batting unit as a whole, and if you were to ask any of the top six about it, they would accept that responsibility.
Singling out the captain appears to be a cheap shot – a way to fill airtime and papers. Curiously, exactly the same pressure was applied by the press to Michael Vaughan in Galle in 2007 and again it was in contradiction to the feelings of the majority of the fans. On that occasion we took it upon ourselves to demonstrate our feelings with a banner showing support at the ground. It seems a shame that four-and-a-half years later the fans’ support for the team and Strauss as skipper is again taking a back seat, while the views of the press box take precedence.
Click here to read about the Barmy Army event that raised £6,250 for two worthy causes