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05-26-2010, 06:44 AM #1
World T20 title a shot in the arm for English sport?
How much of a shot in the arm will the World T20 title prove for English sport? Despite their renowned love of sport and their sportsmen, England has always underachieved. With the football World Cup here, TOI-Crest wonders if this will finally be their year, or will it prove just another mirage...
It's a sign.
It's the World T20 win!
Success is infectious. And British sports fans are getting infected in voluminous numbers. The country's stunning success in the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean is being viewed as a good omen for England's two big team events in the next six months, the World Cup football and the Ashes, where they will play their oldest cricketing opponents, the ones they beat thoroughly last Sunday - Australia.
The T20 triumph deserves applause. It's interesting that England's first-ever victory in an ICC event came in the nutshell variation of the game. The English may have invented T20, but for them to actually come through in a modern exercise is a shocking departure from convention. So much so, the English themselves are questioning the 'Englishness' of their team. Paul Collingwood's victorious side had a South African edge to it in the form of Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb, who brought not just cricketing skill, but also a different mentality that perhaps formed the heart of the team's adventurous approach in the competition. Kieswetter tagged their Caribbean charge to the team's overall philosophy: "our orders were to go down blazing" .
And so the baton has passed on, from one sport to another. With barely three weeks to go for football's quadrennial extravaganza the question which crops up once every four years in England is gaining in decibel level again: Is this the year?
England's performance in team sports, especially in the last 20 years, has not met the staggering expectations of its loyal band of sporting supporters. The other one-off victory came in the 2003 rugby World Cup. The win instantly doubled the popularity of the game on the old dart. In cricket though the hurrahs have been few and far between, the odd win in Sharjah and the Ashes successes of 2005 and 2009, sandwiched between which was the drubbing of '07.
British fans, however, refuse to ride the downside of its sporting wave. In England, as the Three Lions embark on their 13th World Cup campaign in 60 years, the hiccups have been forgotten and the mood is cheery.
In South Africa, England will begin at very long odds to land world football's biggest crown, but it is unlikely to deter several hundreds of fans from travelling to Johannesburg next month. Part of those travel plans would include a fervent hope of seeing an English triumph not witnessed in an international tournament in more than 40 years.