22 Aug England Cricket’s Drug Of Choice

It was that early January day back in 2011 when England had just won the Ashes in Australia.

Andrew Strauss came on the BBC news in high spirits and was asked “What are you going to do to celebrate?”

“It’s going to involve loads of alcohol!”, he replied.

That image of the captain of England’s cricket team, the epitome of the establishment, gratuitously and blatantly encouraging the over-consumption of the most dangerous, harmful and addictive drug on the planet has remained with me ever since.

Role Model?

Then, last week, as the soap opera that is England cricket descended ever closer to the uncouth behaviour of the Premier League, what is Strauss given to celebrate his 100th test match?

100 bottles of wine.

His team mates presented him with 100 specially commissioned bottles of wine and Laithwaite’s, “Official Wine Partner of England Cricket”, also gave Strauss 22 bottles of its Premier Cru Champagne, one for each of his Test centuries. See the full story here.

You really couldn’t make it up. It is so ridiculous, irresponsible, hypocritical and, to quote a favourite government phrase, “sends the wrong message”.

Of course, if Strauss or Pietersen or any of them had suggested they might enjoy a spliff or a hash brownie, scientifically proven to be at least 100 times safer than alcohol, all hell would have broken loose. They would probably have been banned from representing their country, possibly from ever playing the game again. They would have been pilloried in the press, disgraced and black balled from polite society. They might have risked their children being taken into care, losing their home, their ability to travel abroad, even losing their driving licence without any judicial process, merely at the whim of the DVLA.

Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy a drink as much as any of them. What I object to, what is outrageous, is the crass celebration and promotion of the consumption of this poison, thrust irresponsibly in the faces of our children and the whole world. The hypocrisy of it is unbelievable, as is the willing participation of the BBC, the media in general and the cricket authorities. Why is it acceptable for Laithwaites to sponsor sport but not for Benson and Hedges? Both sell legal poisons that kill tens of thousands of people every year.

Thankfully, there are role models in sport that demonstrate much better sense. The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps; our very own boxing gold medal winner, Anthony Joshua; tennis prodigy Jennifer Capriati; countless NBA basketball players, snowboarders, skaters, baseball players; the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt; the greatest all-rounder ever to play for England, Ian Botham. All these heroes know that cannabis is a much safer, friendlier, healthier way to relax than is alcohol.

Usain Bolt

Ian Botham