On the whole, I don't really do sport. I've always admired intelligence over brawn, and whenever I am thrust unwittingly into a sporting endeavor I am put off by the unthinking matey coarseness of it and even worse, the ugly sight of people being un-english and taking things too seriously.
The only competitive sport that I have played at all since leaving school is pub cricket. I don't have any strong pull to cricket, but I have always enjoyed a leisurely afternoon in the sun drinking a few beers and having a fag in the outfield. Our village pub team resolutely upheld non-competitive standards, and any visiting side that seemed to play the game seriously, or even un-drunk or un-hungover was frowned upon and not invited back (the 'serious' sides were always travelling teams of london lawyers and bankers, who invariably managed to smuggle in a couple of Australian ringers, the cads)
I do feel though that if I was to follow a sport, it should be cricket - I like the way that the players are mostly not 'stars', and I like the orderliness of the spectacle, I like the 'englishness' of it - in terms of abstract ideals rather than nationalism . I've never been particularly moved by the reporting of it in the sports pages though. However today I chanced upon a lovely piece in the book I'm reading - Austerity Britain. The writer, Neville Cardus is talking about the incredible 1947 season of Denis Compton (18 centuries in the season)
" Never have I been so deeply touched on a cricket ground as I was in this heavenly summer, when I went to Lord's to see a pale-faced crowd, existing on rations, the rocket bomb still in the ears of most folk - see this worn, dowdy crowd watching Compton. The strain of long years of anxiety and affliction passed from all hearts and shoulders at the sight of Compton in full sail, sending the ball here, there and everywhere, each stroke a flick of delight, a propulsion of happy sane healthy life."
perhaps I'll rejoin the pub team next summer.