I don’t mind a bit of tennis but apart from that cricket is the only sport I like. I think football is frightful (I hate the noise, and don’t understand all that running about or why the crowd are so excited the whole time), I don’t really get athletics as a spectator sport either especially the running, I mean I quite like running myself but why anyone would want to watch people running fast in a straight line is beyond me. Other sports I just find generally uninteresting. I realise this attitude puts me in the minority, most cricket fans do enjoy other sports.
I found an example of this in my latest TTF digital story (http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/squash-tennis-hockey-and-more) where two Wimbledon CC members discuss the club’s strong relationship with other sports – and this is not unusual. Even at the highest level of cricket players can be multi-skilled. The relationship between football and cricket used to be especially close in the days before cricket was a 12 months of the year occupation. Football used to be viewed as a good way for county cricketers to keep fit in the winter. Some players even played to a professional level in both sports.
The most famous example is probably Denis Compton who, on top of his cricket heroics, played football for Arsenal and England and wrote a coaching manual on football. He cites one of the main draws of this dual career (aside from love of the game) as the financial benefits.
“Professional football, providing you make some headway and join a good club, can be a most happy medium by which one earns a living. Especially, from a financial point of view, is it worth dove-tailing with cricket, for a man at the top of the ladder receives £12 a week during the soccer season, plus £2 for a win, and £1 for a draw, and during the summer – again if he is on top pay – £10 a week.”
From ‘Playing for England’ by Denis Compton
I guess sport didn’t pay quite so well back then, these days most pick just one sport but there’s still quite a long list of footballing cricketers. We have a football medal in the MCC museum collection that was presented to Jack Hobbs, Ian Botham played for Scunthorpe United and Viv Richards played in the 1974 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for Antigua – to give just a few examples.
(Bibliography – Playing for England by Denis Compton, Cricket in Summer, Football in Winter by Kevin Moore published in the MCC Magazine issue 5)