Opinion: Nobody loves, or even likes, England

Blog Opinion

Is there anybody out there who loves England? Forget love, what about like? Or maybe just respect? Admire? The hate brigade certainly seems to be out in force.

Is there anybody out there who loves England? Forget love, what about like? Or maybe just respect? Admire? The hate brigade certainly seems to be out in force.

There appears to be something about this England team structure that is universally repellent. Social media tends to raise the temperature, especially when some twittering former captain demands partial refunds for the fans.

From resting players to revelry, they can't do anything right. Whatever else they do and however they do it or present it, it is just ripe for an attack at this very moment.

This syndrome that comes from a perceived flaw in performance and demeanour, perhaps best summed up in the fatal words of Stuart Broad: 'winning at all costs.'

Even if Broad's words and defence of his actions in not walking were unwelcome, there is a wider issue in terms of how Team England go about their business. The Australian press have almost rewritten history, such is their contempt for the Poms.

In many ways, it was a nice idea to gather together in the dead of evening like a bunch of boy scouts who forgot they had parents (or Flower). Perhaps it was all too public and staged for some, but at the end of six hard weeks of Ashes toil and tension, they knew there was no open top bus ride waiting for them.

However, bad news and bad vibes appear to follow this team. It does seem absurd. As James Anderson so succinctly put it: "So far, we've been accused of ball-tampering, bat-tampering, general all-round cheating, including not walking, time-wasting, arrogance, failing to win Tests convincingly enough, being too defensive, being too aggressive and not only underestimating our opponents but disrespecting them."

And that was before their latest antics. Even when England retained the Ashes, it was done at a wet and windy Old Trafford when they had been outplayed. Celebrations appeared to be subdued, but Shane Warne got stuck in and the press picked on the cigarette brigade puffing away in the Manchester streets like the local youth.

Perhaps it wasn't the wisest choice for Ashes 'heroes'. England do not help themselves. Kevin Pietersen's churlishness in front of the media is regrettable but well documented and goes against his often generous attitude elsewhere.

It is rare that more obviously likeable chaps like Matt Prior and Ian Bell give anything away either in terms of information or warmth. It doesn't go down well in this sound bite society. Where is the Martin Luther King of the side? Do the players have a dream? Maybe a wet one at the Oval.

Once upon a time, Allan Lamb used to charm the Indian fans and David Gower flew Tiger Moths over Australian cricket pitches. England 2013 are more of a professional hit squad not given to spontaneous showmanship.

They do have a public relations trump card in Graeme Swann. His dairies during the Ashes in 2010 were enjoyably irreverent and the recent impressions of team mates were a great example of knockabout fun.

Swann doesn't take himself too seriously and perhaps needs to rub his magic on some of the more mundane party line colleagues.

It really does not have to be an 'us and them' mentality, but there has been something of that in Flower's men this summer. Even if much of it is undeserved, they would do well to address it. It won't take much effort. After all, the winning bit is the hardest.

<b>Tim Ellis</b>