You know that scene in Love, Actually when Laura Linney’s character gets the tall, dark, handsome colleague back to her place and ducks into an alcove to jump excitedly on the spot?
That was me last night when England got bundled out of the Cricket World Cup.
I’m not Robinson Crusoe on this one. Bagging England is an international sport. One that England could actually win.
For no one laid into the hapless Poms more than the Poms themselves, as a conga line of English players and commentators lined up to have a crack. A bit like this clip from Flying High.
Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan, who’ve been banging on for months about the crapness of the English side, nevertheless expressed surprise at the concentrated crapness of this campaign.
“WTF?” tweeted Vaughan after England’s loss to Bangladesh. KP was in such shock his powers of spelling deserted him. “I CANNOT BELIVE THIS!” he tweeted.
Others weighed in. “Pathetic,” they said. “An embarrassment.” “The laughing stock of world cricket.” “Utter humiliation.” “Absolute disgrace.” “English cricket into the sporting sewer.”
All delicious stuff. But the best sledge of all, much like England’s World Cup demise, came from a most unexpected quarter. Japan, a country which has made an art form out of politeness, sent down a toe crusher.
I must admit that in the frenzy of ridicule that broke out on social media around 11pm last night, I did pause momentarily to ask: is it wrong to take this much pleasure from England’s pain?
But I snapped out of it.
So what is it about the Poms — be it in cricket, soccer, rugby league, rugger, tennis, hockey, netball, ping pong or any other sport they invented — that makes them such easy targets for parody?
For Australians, it’s a bit of an up yours from the colonial riff-raff for the convict privations, Gallipoli (another disastrous English campaign) and the empire’s general misplaced air of superiority over the past 200-odd years.
Naturally, we’ll take any opportunity to rub their noses in it, knowing that on the rare occasions when the boot’s on the other foot, it’ll be dealt back to us in spades.
And the Poms do bring it on themselves a bit.
Like coach Peter Moores, asked what had gone wrong. “We thought 275 was chaseable,” he said. “We shall have to look at the data.”
Slice it any way you like, buddy, the data’s going to say you lost.
And here’s why, Pete. You can’t run stats on a team’s ability to rise to a big occasion, its courage under fire, its sense of belief, its ticker or cojones.
As Geoffrey Boycott put it: “I watch the game because I’ve played. I don’t need a computer.”
That’s why Bangladesh is through to the quarter finals and England’s on a plane back home.
Except first they have to play Afghanistan at the SCG on Friday. Which could be one of the most competitive games of the tournament.