There is growing pressure on the Government today to withdraw British sporting stars from Australia following the weekend’s devastating results from down under.
Protesters have mounted a vigil outside Downing Street, lighting candles whenever another England wicket falls and waving banners saying ‘One Day Series – Not On My Behalf’ and ‘Make Love, Not Sport.’
Leader of the opposition Ed Miliband told reporters ‘Every day we are reading about more and more British sporting casualties. It’s time to call a halt, and we urge the Government to put into place an immediate timetable for withdrawal of all cricketers and tennis players from Australia before any more damage is done.’
Other critics have gone further, questioning why British sports stars were sent to the hostile conditions of an Australian summer in the first place. ‘It’s clear that the reasons we were all given at the start of the campaign were duplicitous’ said protester and sports pundit Geoffrey Boycott. ‘Back last year we were told that our brave lads were being sent out there to defend the Ashes, but one month on they’re still there, suffering loss after loss in the one day series and even getting stuffed in Grand Slam tennis finals. We need to bring them home now, and we must have an enquiry into the circumstances leading up to the deployment of the sportsmen.’
A YouGov survey has confirmed that public support for the sporting events has waned. ‘At the start of January public support was strong’ said a YouGov spokesman, ‘peaking at 94% when we won the Ashes, but that’s slowly fallen since then since the one dayers started. There was a slight rise when Andy Murray reached the final, but since ‘Black Sunday’ it’s plummeted to 2%. I can’t see that the Government can ignore this.’
Even American President Barack Obama has refused to support British involvement, saying ‘Cricket? What’s that, something to do with grasshoppers?’
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt defended the campaign however, insisting that the campaign was vital in defending the British way of life. ‘If we weren’t losing at sport over there we’d be losing at sport over here, which would be far worse’ he said. ‘It’s true that things have taken a turn for the worse since the initial successes of the Ashes’ he conceded ‘but we won that didn’t we, what’s your problem? Ooh, ah, Barmy Army!’