Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Dedicated Followers of Fashion

Fancy dress is pretty commonplace at international cricket these days. The guy in the Pink Panther costume is a seemingly ever-present fixture at all England test matches. You do wonder on some baking hot days whether he ever thinks to himself - 'why the hell am I doing this?' It's a paradoxical form of anonymous self-publicity - matched only by the weirdos you'd see dressed in gimp outfits at punk gigs over the years.

Every test match brings out it's fair share of exhibitionists and human billboards and you always get a fair smattering of people dressed up as 'village idiots' - you recognise them because they're wearing Manchester United football shirts to a cricket match.

The most popular costume in this World Cup however, is far more subtle and can be best described as the 'Empty Seat'. it's not the most colourful or exciting of costumes, but has really caught the imagination of Carribean cricket fans to the extent that at most grounds there seem to be whole blocks of fans dressed in this way - demonstration of an extraordinarily efficient organisation

To get so many people to fall in with a specific dress code like the 'Empty Seat' is amazing. The nearest equivalent I can think of is the 'orange' display of Dutch football supporters at international tournaments - but even with them, there's always one person who lets the side down by turning up in blue or white. The 'empty seat' crew have a 100% success rate in some stands, and around 50% elsewhere - a remarkable effort.

it's all the more commendable when you realise that the much-criticised ICC ticket pricing policy means that a lot of these people are paying out almost half their weekly wage to watch games.

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