While I was reading Jonathan Wilson’s excellent book on the development of football tactics ‘Inverting the Pyramid’ i came across the notion of speed as being of one the key ingredients if not the main part of the English game. Players with technical abilities were and still are sneered at. Even after the 6-3 hammering against Hungary did England not alter their tactical set up to a great deal and still relied on speed and fast attacks as a way to unsettle opponents and to score. Didier Drogba of Chelsea once described the English style of play in three simple words: attack, attack, attack.
Watch a game of Cricket and the opposite is the truth. A full test match can take up to five days! Now that’s what i would call slow. Test matches between England and Australia are sold out weeks in advance although it is not sure that a lot will happen. In stark contrast to football there is not a lot of action, the biggest excitement happens when batsmen are bowled or caught out or one batsman applies some technical skill to hammer the ball over the boundaries of the oval. Despite recent developments such as twenty20 and the introduction of the Indian Premier League full test matches on international level still sell out. The BBC or whoever holds the right to broadcast, show the games live delivering a huge amount of knowledge besides the game.
The difference is obvious. Football in England is played fast and furious with no or little room for technical skills and if a player uses his trickery he most often is of foreign origin while the English players are usually plucking along. Cricket is a slow game with the exception of the bowler running up tho the crease and the batsman hitting the ball. Cricket, so it appars, is a lot about mind games, placing the players at the tactically best spot on the field to increase the chance of getting the ball and thus run out the opponent. Bowling and batting both demand technical skill and good body control.
In summary it seems that the English cannot do both or a mix of both, speed and skill. It is either or but never both together. It is either Labour or Tories; the current coalition government being the exception from the rule.