Test cricket and its unlikely celebrity following
The quintessential summer sport of cricket is set to return to the international stage with England’s Test match series against the West Indies beginning on 8th July. The slow nature of Test cricket lends itself to lazy summer days, watching the drama unfold at its own distinct pace. Its five-day format is unique amongst sports which often demand non-stop scoring and fast results to keep the crowd engaged. Test cricket stands tall as both the antithesis and antidote to the hurried nature of modern sport and therein, perhaps, lies its appeal to a host of unlikely internationally famous fans.
Alright, alright, alright – the wise-cracking, Oscar-winning Texan actor certainly wouldn’t be the first person one would associate with cricket. The star of Dallas Buyers Club, however, explained that he developed a passion for the sport whilst working in Australia during the 1980s. McConaughey spoke fondly of his time on a pea farm watching “full-on, five-day matches” in the West Indies’ Curtly Ambrose and Desmond Haynes days. He also spoke of his propensity to take naps during matches, perhaps – on second thoughts – the more sedate, laid-back nature of Test Cricket is a perfect match for the movie star after all.
Another Hollywood star, this time of the action-movie variety, the beefcake known for his macho-stylings in films like “The Fighter” is possibly an even less likely fit for the cerebral game of cricket. In actual fact, Wahlberg’s love of what he has described as “a real gentleman’s sport” has led to his part-ownership in the Barbados Tridents cricket team who play in the Caribbean Premier League. The man who played “The Gambler” now considers himself to be a huge fan of the sport and his specialist knowledge of the Caribbean game, in particular, could be advantageous in cricket betting for the upcoming series involving the West Indies. Wahlberg is certainly not a man who does anything by halves, maybe one day we will see “The Cricketer” coming to a theatre near you.
Okay, this one might be a stretch but the pop superstar has certainly made her admiration clear for the embodiment of methodical Test cricket: Geoffrey Boycott. Back in 2013, Perry recorded a message for the Yorkshireman (who had confessed to being a fan of hers) in which she declared “I personally think you’re beautiful and your style is stunning.” One can just imagine the “Roar” singer sitting down to carefully study and take notes on the best of Boycott’s focused, patient Test match batting. Perry certainly hit the batsman himself for six during their eventual meeting as the famously dour personality discovered some rare enthusiasm in describing her as “tops” and even expressing his love for the song “Firework”.
The popularity of cricket can appear limited to the Commonwealth nations, whilst the slow-pace of Test matches can sometimes lead to suggestions that the game is not suited to the modern era at all. Its uniqueness, however, allows it to stand apart from other sports and consequently gives it such broad appeal that it attracts fans from countries like the USA where the sport is barely played. As the return of cricket approaches, keep an eye out for any famous fans offering their views, you may just be surprised.