SPORT TALK: What happened to being resigned to heavy defeat?

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

In the latest of a series of sports columns from the Gazette, BEN O’CONNELL discusses raised expectations in British sport.

Do you know what’s wrong with British and English sport at the moment? We’re too successful.

Bear with me – I noticed this phenomenom on two occasions in the past week, with the first coming in the cricket.

Despite thrashing India on Tuesday, the disappointment that followed England’s defeat to Australia four days previously seemed to be far stronger.

Why? Our one-day side has never been much cop and when I was a teenager we never beat Australia at cricket (or anything else really) and were routinely thrashed by most of the rest of the world.

But since 2005, when we won three from five Ashes series as well as a Twenty20 World Cup, the expectations have gone through the roof.

The second such incident also came Down Under at the Australian Open tennis, where Andy Murray has made it through to the third round.

Once again, while the bulk of the coverage focused on Murray’s wins, there was also a fair bit of interest in the other Brits, none of whom made it through their first games. The BBC described this as ‘disappointing’.

Fair enough you may think, but what happened to the days when we were giddy with excitement when Tiger Tim Henman repeatedly came close to almost, nearly, but not quite, getting through to a Wimbledon final.

At that time, no one would be expecting four of our compatriots to ever be in a Grand Slam tournament, let alone getting through the first round.

I believe you can trace the trend back to 2003 when England won the Rugby World Cup and has since expanded into a multitude of sports, illustrated by our success at recent Olympics.

The only ones that let us down were the so-called Golden Generation of footballers – at least they stuck to the script.

Last week: What football refs can learn from rugby counterparts