My Spidey-senses may be off, but I detected a notable whiff of Anglophobia on Twitter as the South Africans were finishing them off at the Oval. I think I know why: a) England humiliated India, so a bunch of unhinged fans are panting for revenge; b) the English press, buoyed by an impressive at-home record, have lost any sense of humility, and c) some folk genuinely like South Africa and want to see them do well. (Why aren’t there more rabid South Africa fans, by the way?)
But I think a lot of people dislike England because they suspect it’s the new Australia. That is, they may be the latest team that will dominate cricket in a ruthless fashion and with meticulous detail. I think we’re all worried because, as I wrote, we now live in a polarized cricket world, wherein S.A., England and Australia (and, on a good day, India) can all claim the No. 1 spot. And by and large, I’m OK with that, because each team on that list has suffered embarrassing humiliation in the last few years (think whitewash for England and India; think Ashes losses for Australia, and think “choker” for South Africa).
These teams aren’t Australia, 1990s edition — they are more human and flawed and occasionally brilliant. And that’s why England don’t bother me all that much. Even after that 4-0 India drubbing, I could cling to at least one thing — in 2007, I watched this team succumb 5-0. I saw them at their worst. That’s something I couldn’t think of Steve Waugh’s lot.