Are cricketers more athletic than footballers

Cricketers as new sports idols

England is in the sporting sky after the national cricket team won the "Ashes" against Australia for the first time in 18 years on Monday. The footballers are happy that the series of five test matches between the two arch-rivals is over. Cricket had stolen the spotlight from them since late July.

England's green spaces have recently undergone a change. Sweaters as goal posts for spontaneous football games had disappeared. They made room for rucksacks on which children - for lack of proper balls - threw tennis balls, while their comrades tried to protect the rucksack from being hit with tennis rackets or light plastic rackets. Nobody wanted to be David Beckham, Wayne Rooney or Michael Owen anymore. Attempts have now been made to imitate idols such as Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff, Simon Jones, Kevin Pietersen or Steve Harmison. England is caught in cricket fever and that is the responsibility of the national team. Thanks to the draw in the last game on Monday evening, she won the series of five test matches for the "Ashes" against arch rivals Australia 2-1.

More important than the World Cup?

It was not just winning the important sporting trophy for England (for some not even surpassed by winning the World Cup) that triggered this fever. The athletic quality and the excitement until the end also contributed to this. "That was the best test match in a series for the Ashes," said Richie Benaud, the doyen of cricket commentators, after the second game in Birmingham in early August. England had won extremely narrowly and thus, after being beaten by Australia in the first game, equalized to 1: 1. Even cricket laypeople stayed in front of the TV until the last ball. After that, comparisons were made, for example with the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Frazier in the "Thriller of Manila" or with Björn Borg's epic five-set win at Wimbledon against John McEnroe in 1980 - events that went beyond the scope of the sport and also cast a spell on those who were not interested in sports .

The game in Birmingham was not an isolated incident. In Manchester a week later, every outcome was possible until the last ball before the game ended in a draw after five days. Two weeks later, the nation went through a rollercoaster of emotions before joy over England's success in Nottingham and the 2-1 lead erupted. And the fever reached boiling point with the fifth and final game at the Oval Stadium in south London. 300,000 tickets could have been sold, but there is only room for 23,500 spectators. Surrounding apartments with a view of the pitch were rented to fans for £ 26,000, or over CHF 59,000, for the five days of the match. Employers' associations said at lunchtime on Monday that their members had received the highest number of sick leave reports for a day this year. Books about cricket sold like hotcakes in bookstores, and sports shops suddenly sold more cricket sweaters, balls (leather-covered cork balls) and bats (mostly made of willow wood) than football paraphernalia. And the tabloids not only reported on cricket in the sports section, they even discovered players' wives as a topic.

Not on the list of "Crown Jewels"

The joy in England over winning the «Ashes» and the upswing for the sport, in which Channel 4 played a major role with its informative live broadcasts, will probably only last for a short time. From the coming season until 2009, Sky Sports will have the exclusive rights to cricket, for which the broadcaster from the empire of media tsar Rupert Murdoch paid £ 220 million to the English cricket federation. The last conservative British government had compiled a list of "crown jewels" of sports events that were only allowed to be broadcast by terrestrial channels. In addition to the World Cup and Summer Olympics, this also included England's test matches in cricket on home soil. But the former ECB chairman Lord McLaurin later convinced Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor government to remove cricket from that list. That was easy for him. In 1997, at a meeting with Rupert Murdoch, Blair (at that time still as opposition leader) managed to get the previously conservative newspapers "The Sun" and "The Times" (both owned by the Australian) to support the Labor Party. Eliminating cricket from the list of sporting “crown jewels” can be seen as consideration in the political deal. And Sports Secretary Richard Caborn has given no indication that he wants to put cricket back on that list from 2009.

Martin Pütter