Home > Cricket > Ireland v England made me a bad sports fan

Ireland v England made me a bad sports fan

Kevin O’Brien’s incredible 113 from 63 balls helped Ireland to a famous win over England. But being a fan can make you a bitter, joyless character about things
 

It’s all very well, being gracious and everything.

Ireland are a side you often support. In many sports, not just in cricket, their plucky underdog status and spirit of derring-do appeal to all but the coldest-hearted of neutrals. And so it is with me: so I was pleased to see Ed Joyce back in their side – given that he’s not going to play for England; so I was disappointed for them when they failed to chase 206 against Bangladesh in their World Cup opener last week.

And I want to say I am pleased for them for what happened next. That I admire not only their stereotyped qualities of courage and character, but their skill. That they showed themselves to be of international pedigree, proven class. Giant killings are, after all, an almost spiritual part of the fabric of sport.

And I suppose I do. It’s just that when I saw Kevin O’Brien on his way to the fastest ever century in a World Cup, playing a brilliant, brutal innings of hitting against England’s increasingly hapless bowlers (and fielders), the feeling I mainly felt was not respect, nor grudging happiness. I  felt angry, upset and determined that England should get him out by whatever means so that they still might scrape to a win against this non-Test playing nation. Sometimes supporting a team makes you a less good fan of sport. Supporters of England were the only people in the world not rejoicing in the accomplished and fearless performance of the Irish team in Bangalore on Wednesday. We were, to an extent, running against the grain of sport lovers.

And as I sat there, agitated, wishing that someone would bowl a beamer at O’Brien’s face so that he would have to be stretchered off, or failing that, that a wild panther would run onto the pitch and rip the bat out of the burly, red-headed bastard’s hands, I did not feel good about myself. I was upset that England were playing badly, of course. And I was also unhappy that I could not be part of the party: the celebration of a triumph that would have been so heart-warming to look on, were it any other team in the world that Ireland had beaten.

Partisanship is a massive part of the enjoyment of sport. But it doesn’t always make you a good person. And sometimes, nay, often, it’s bloody frustrating.

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