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This is Simply Not Cricket!

 Do we cheat enough? A controversial question I admit but in a week when drug cheat Lance Armstrong had a cringe-inducing appearance on “Oprah” Luis Suarez got into hot water with his manager Brendan Rogers and possibly the FA for admitting to having dived to win his team a penalty when struggling to win at home against Stoke City. This is in the immediate aftermath of his helping “hand” that denied a battling Mansfield Town a lucrative replay much to the chagrin of their Chairman John Radford.


Suarez, whether you love him or hate him, is undoubtedly a quite magnificent player. He should also be commended for being honest although no one is truly shocked by the revelation. Tony Pulis knew and so did we! However, it struck me that this type of gamesmanship is scorned on by us as a nation. It is simply not on. It is cheating.

The foreigners have enriched our game. There is no doubt about that. However there are too many of them and they don’t always have the sense of fair play which is the hallmark of our culture. This British sense of fair play is the envy of the world.

In addition, our stiff upper lip and indomitable spirit mean that we cannot possibly let our opponents know that they have hurt us. Rolling around on the ground for just long enough for a yellow or red card to be brandished is just not cricket. The foreigners call it “gamesmanship” and do not see it as we do. It has cost us dear. The margins are tight in international football. We are already technically inferior. This little cultural difference in interpretation can mean everything.


In the aftermath of the Falklands war in the 1986 World Cup Diego Maradona scored the greatest goal I have ever seen by beating half the England team to put Argentina 2-0 up. However, he had punched the first one in! The “hand of God” as he was to refer to it had been the crucial difference. England went out 2-1 having introduced John Barnes and we were inches away from an equaliser by Gary Lineker. Maradona’s look at the England team, as they lined up for the National Anthems before that game was one of pure malevolence. He hated us and he cheated to win.


In the 1990 World Cup Semi Final against Germany we had one of the players of the tournament in Paul Gascoigne. Frankly, we had the team to win the tournament. German play acting got him booked and he knew that he would not appear in the Final should England progress. This impacted on his contribution in those final moments of that game which could have made all the difference.


In France in the 1996 World Cup Diego Simeone’s antics meant Beckham received a straight red card and England (who were quite magnificent that night) had to play on with 10 men only to go out on spot kicks. In short, Simeone too had cheated us. In the World Cup Quarter Final in 2006 Ronaldo’s reaction to a stamp on a fellow player got Rooney sent off (Ronaldo put enormous pressure on the referee), although Rooney took to it like a red rag to a bull! The subsequent “wink” by Ronaldo said it all.


We simply have to be more intelligent and cool when we encounter these situations or we will struggle to win. We already have to change our style and technique to compete. The conclusion must be that to win in the way highlighted makes you a winner. To win without cheating makes you both a winner and a champion!

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