Interview of Cricket Fans – 51 – England

Thank you so much for your participation in this interview, first of all, tell us about your Instagram page and the kind of content you post there.

No problem, it’s an absolute pleasure for me to take part in this interview and thank you for getting me on! I run a cricket page on Instagram called ‘thecricketconnoisseur_’ which I use to write in-depth match summaries about domestic and international cricket from all around the world including both men’s and women’s cricket as well as associate cricket in nations which are not usually associated with the game of cricket. I also do interactive live streams on the page where you can ask any cricket related questions that you have and I also have series of posts that I upload now and again such as ‘minor nation profiles’ where I cover cricket in nations such as Bhutan, Canada and Mozambique for example and ‘TCC Team analysis’ where I analyse the key players from past or present teams to give you a greater insight into the best players in the game. Whether you are a cricketing novice or the biggest cricket badger in the world, there is definitely something for you on The Cricket Connoisseur social media channels!

You also have your podcast known as ‘The County Cricket Podcast’, tell us a bit about that.

Yes, of course, The County Cricket Podcast is a weekly podcast that I co-host with Lancashire’s biggest Jonny Bairstow enthusiast, Joe ‘Nutzy’ Nuttall, and in the podcasts we have special guests from the county cricket circuit, discuss the week’s major talking points in county cricket and also answer any questions that cricket fans want to ask us. I have to say it is arguably my favourite piece of content that I produce at the moment purely because of the fun myself and Joe have on it and the opportunities that it has given us to talk to players that we watch every week during the English summer and get an understanding of how they approach the game that we love. I highly recommend giving the podcast a listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or on another podcast streaming platform of your choice as we have a whole host of guests lined up for the foreseeable future and if you have any questions that you want to ask us you can send them into @thecountycrick2 on Twitter and we will happily answer them!

I first came across your account a year ago where you used to post squad analysis of all cricket playing countries, and sometimes even teams from the past. How much time does it take to review each team?

First of all, thank you so much for all of the support over the past year, I really do appreciate it and I have to say that you’re absolutely smashing it with these fan interviews! To answer your question, it depends on the team, for a world-beating team such as the 2011 Indian World Cup winning team or the 2014 Sri Lankan T20 World Cup winning team, for example, it doesn’t take very long because there are a plethora of outstanding cricketers to choose from and the strengths and weaknesses of the squad is usually apparent to see. With a lesser-known team, it does take slightly longer due to the extra research that has to be done into the stats, key performances etc but on the whole, the squad analysis write-ups usually take a couple of hours depending on the level of research that has to be done before the upload.

So how has your journey been so far as a cricket analyst?

I can honestly say that I have loved every single minute of it up until this point. When I first created ‘The Cricket Connoisseur’ on Instagram I didn’t expect many people to like the content but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the reception that I’ve received from cricket fans from all across the world and it’s a true privilege to have discussions with both passionate fans and professional cricketers alike who I never could have imagined speaking to. I still have a long way to go before I achieve my ambition of becoming a cricket analyst but I’m hoping that my work on social media will act as a portfolio for cricket teams to look at and get in contact with me over potential opportunities as I’m willing to work tirelessly to achieve this goal and make a name for myself in the world of cricket. If there are any cricket teams out there who need an analyst or someone to commentate on their matches, my inbox is always open!  

Have you got the opportunity to meet any cricketers from the past?

I have actually, most of the players that I have met in the past are Warwickshire players such as Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott and Jeetan Patel to name but a few but I have also met a couple of international players when I have gone to England matches, the most prominent one being Glenn McGrath who I was fortunate enough to get a photo with on my way to my seat in the 1st test of the 2019 Ashes at Edgbaston. I did also try to meet AB de Villiers at a T20 Blast match between Gloucestershire and Middlesex at Cheltenham last year but unfortunately, he got injured the match before so he didn’t turn up for the game and I didn’t get a chance to meet him. Hopefully one day I will get a chance though as he’s a true legend of the game and has always been one of my absolute favourite cricketers.

Tell us about growing up in England with context to cricket since most of the people prefer football over this sport.

Football is definitely the most popular sport in England given the presence of the Premier League and the accessibility to the game all year round but there is still a large cricket fan base here and it’s widely considered as our national summer sport. We have thousands of local cricket clubs scattered all around the country, a popular county cricket scene which is seeing ever-increasing crowd attendances, until this season of course, and the English cricket fan base is one that for the most part is dedicated, loyal and very knowledgeable about the game which makes it quite easy to talk about cricket with someone whenever you visit a cricket ground in England or Wales. It pains me to say that I doubt that cricket will ever overtake football as England’s most popular sport but the game is still in a very strong position in the country and I expect it to keep going from strength to strength once we return bo some sense of normality.

You must be proud of what your team had achieved in the summer of 2019, first with the coloured jersey and then in whites.

When talking about the 2019 Cricket World Cup I always like to think back to 2015 when Rubel Hossain clean bowled Jimmy Anderson in the 49th over at Adelaide to knock us out of the World Cup with a game still to spare. At the time I was absolutely gutted and was questioning whether I would ever see us win the Cricket World Cup given our quite frankly embarrassing performances in Australia and New Zealand. Over the course of the four years that followed though I was fortunate enough to witness this quite simply incredible English white ball renaissance under the command of captain Eoin Morgan which saw England transform from being the team that anybody could beat to being the team that other countries wish that they could beat.

Fast-forwarding to the 2019 World Cup I was expecting us to be a strong contender given the strength of the squad that we had and the home advantage that we possessed by being the tournament hosts but after the losses to Australia and Sri Lanka, I was worried that we might not even make the semi-finals let alone reach the final of the world cup itself. Then when we beat two of the strongest teams in the tournament, India at Edgbaston and New Zealand at the Riverside, and therefore we reached the second semi-final against the Aussies at my beloved Edgbaston. I remember on the Tuesday before the semi-final I stayed up until 02:00 AM constantly refreshing the World Cup ticket page to try and get a ticket for the match and eventually I refreshed the page and a ticket in the RES Wyatt Stand appeared in my basket which I immediately purchased and then just two days later I found myself walking through the gates at Edgbaston with my England world cup shirt on! Just because of the intense emotion on that day I would probably rank that as the greatest cricket match that I’ve ever attended and I don’t think that I’ve experienced elation to the extent that I felt when Warwickshire’s very own Chris Woakes, a man who I had been watching at Edgbaston ever since I was a child, dismissed David Warner in just the third over of the match to send the crowd into absolute raptures.

And then, of course, there was the final itself which was one of the craziest games of cricket ever witnessed so I don’t think I will even try to describe it! All I’ll say about the final is that after all of the disappointment from the 2015 world cup and the four years that followed of religiously watching the team transform into a true powerhouse in white-ball cricket, that moment was glorious, to say the least. I don’t think that I will ever find a word to describe the magnitude of that moment on the 14th July and how much it meant to me but yeah, that also has to be one of the greatest moments of my life to date. I would just like to wrap this up by giving a special mention to New Zealand as well because although they came out on the wrong side of the result by ‘the barest of margins’ as Ian Smith would say, they still played some magnificent cricket throughout that summer and I would love to see them go and win a major ICC trophy at some point in the near future, they more than deserve it. 

Then after the excitement of the World Cup, we had the Ashes which produced some of the greatest cricket that we as cricket fans have seen in recent time. You had the ‘Summer of Smith’, the emergence of Jofra Archer with that ferocious spell at Lord’s and then finally to top it all off you had ‘that’ superhuman effort from Ben Stokes in front of a full house at Headingley. I suppose you couldn’t really ask for any more as test cricket lover! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to cap off that incredible summer by prizing the immortal Ashes urn from the hands of our Aussie counterparts on that occasion but the sheer quality of the cricket that we had the pleasure of witnessing during that Ashes series was the stuff of legend and I doubt that many cricket fans will ever forget it.

India vs England 2021, seems like it will happen in UAE, must be really looking forward to this one since it is being played in a neutral venue which is extremely rare in modern times.

In a way, it’s exciting because as you’ve said it could take place in a neutral venue which would offer up a unique setting for an India vs England series and the conditions in the UAE may lead to some exciting cricket being played throughout the series, especially given the experience that several Indian and English players have gained there in this year’s IPL. I am of course really looking forward it as an India vs England series always produces some magnificent cricket no matter the format, but I would hope that the series is played in India itself, ideally with a select number of fans being allowed into the stadiums at some point, as an away series against India just wouldn’t feel right without the incredible passion and electric atmosphere that Indian fans bring to the stadium. Unfortunately for this series that may not be possible due to the pandemic but I do hope to see fans come back at some point because as I said, it’s very strange to see India playing cricket without a legion of fervent fans being present to support their team.

During COVID-19, England managed to first host Windies, then Ireland, Pakistan, Australia, even Windies women. Along with that, they also managed to complete their home summer with Bob Willis Trophy and T20 blast, giving us fans the first taste of new normal of Cricket in COVID times.

Well, first things first, I think we all have to say a massive thank you to everyone who worked so tirelessly to get cricket back on in the first place in England. I’m going to be honest I didn’t think that we would get even a month of cricket in 2020 given the uncertain times that we are currently living in but to get 3 months of both men’s and women’s cricket at both the domestic and the international level was quite astonishing to say the least and as I said we are eternally grateful to all of the teams who made the journey over to England when they so easily could have declined. I think it’s safe to say that it was a strange summer for all of us as cricket fans here in England but we still got to see Jimmy Anderson reach 600 test wickets, Stuart Broad reach 500 test wickets and we even had the pleasure of witnessing the emergence of young talent across all three formats such as Curtis Campher, Haider Ali and Zak Crawley to name but a few, so although it was by no means the cricketing summer that we imagined, I still believe that we will remember the 2020 English cricketing summer for many more years to come.

Who are you rooting for in this year’s IPL?

Well, I have been an RCB fan ever since the inaugural IPL in 2008 so of course, I will be supporting the mighty Royal Challengers in this year’s tournament. I’m going to be honest, it hasn’t been an easy journey as an RCB fan given the fact that we have had some of the greatest players in T20 cricket history play for us and yet we still haven’t won the IPL after 13 seasons, even though we have come agonisingly close on three occasions, but no matter what happens I will always support them and with the appointment of Simon Katich and Mike Hesson at the franchise, as well as the emergence of an exciting squad led by the legendary Virat Kohli, I am quietly confident that we can finally seal our maiden IPL title at some point in the near future.  

Let’s finish this interview with your dream team consisting of England and Indian players only. (Modern era)

This is a good question. I’ll choose a test match XI seeing as it is the purest form of the game so here is my current Anglo-Indian dream test team:

Dom Sibley
Mayank Agarwal
Joe Root
Virat Kohli (C)
Ben Stokes
Rishabh Pant (WK)
Chris Woakes
Ravichandran Ashwin
Jofra Archer
Stuart Broad
Jasprit Bumrah

Of course this is just my personal ‘dream XI’ and it’s absolutely fine to disagree with some of my choices but I just chose a team full of players that I enjoy watching at the moment in test cricket from both nations. And of course, Jay thank you for having me on your interview series, I’ve really enjoyed answering the questions and I wish you the very best of luck.

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