With less than three weeks until 2020, we are close to the end of a momentous year in English cricket.
Amongst other things, 2019 has given us England’s first-ever ODI World Cup victory, an enthralling Ashes series (including ‘that innings’ from Ben Stokes at Headingley), the first Hundred draft, and of course, the launch of the brand new Barmy Army site.
With that in mind, we sat down with one of the Barmy Army co-founders, Paul Burnham, to talk all things cricket–including his favourite moments watching the game, his take on some of English cricket’s current hot topics and what the Barmy Army has planned for the future.
1. What is the greatest moment you have witnessed watching England?
Without doubt is has to be the Boxing day massacre of 2010 when England bowled out Australia and then scored enough runs to go past them on the first day of the Melbourne test match. The Ashes will always be the ultimate and 2010/11 was the only time we have won an Ashes series in Australia since the Barmy Army’s inception! To sit and watch a day where we completely dominated was the best day by a distance…it was an incredible atmosphere in with the England fans. Boxing day is a bit of a national institution in Australia and to see thousands of them streaming out the ground at tea time was a joy to behold! A very special day, never to be forgotten.
2. And the most peculiar?
I would say the final day of the 2005 Edgbaston test match against Australia when England famously won by just 2 runs. We had lost at Lord’s but went to Edgbaston believing we could win…and that belief was even stronger when Glenn McGrath was injured in the warm up. By the Saturday night, England had played themselves into an almost unbeatable position in the test and 99% of fans thought the job was done and were out celebrating. However, deep down I knew you could never write off the Australian team and as they clawed themselves back into the game on Sunday…the hungover English crowd was probably the quietest I can remember. The Australian fans, for probably the only time in 25 years, were on top in terms of noise and were counting down the run chase as they got ever nearer to pulling off a shock comeback. All the England fans were sat in disbelief, biting nails and having muted, panicked conversations…and were simply too nervous to make any noise. It ended up being a day of panic rather than celebration but luckily we got enough chances to be able to take one. A very peculiar day from a Barmy perspective anyway.
3. Who is the best player you’ve ever seen? (England and opposition)
Shane Warne without a doubt. He was the thorn in our side throughout the 90’s and 00’s. He got a hat trick in Melbourne on our first tour there in 94/95 and has haunted us forever. KP was the only England player I saw that ever got the better of him. By far and away the best cricketer I’ve ever seen and never missed a test match against England! In terms of England it has to be Darren Gough. The Barmy Army are all about travelling away to support the team when the going gets tough and Goughy is one of the few bowlers we’ve had over the years who could do things with the ball on flat tracks in difficult conditions. He was ahead of his time in terms of his variations and keeping the batsman guessing and always gave absolutely everything for the cause. He’s the first name on my England dream team.
4. What’s your favourite Barmy Army song?
The song we had for Simon Jones which really showed our support for him after his injury and united the Welsh and English amongst us. It is the England & Wales team after all!
5. What do you think sets Barmy Army apart from other supporter groups?
Our support is unconditional and that is a mantra that has always been with us. We were founded on a losing tour in 94/95 and from our inception it has felt like the more wickets we’ve lost the more we’ve sang. No other supporters group in the world, in any sport, sticks with their team through thick and thin like the Barmy Army does. We never criticise or get stuck into the team and we have a unique relationship with players. In my 25 years involved with the BA I’ve literally never seen or heard any vocal negativity towards players or coaches in the stands. Our style of support is fun, witty and amusing – never negative. We always have a great time, no matter how the team are doing on the pitch…it’s very much your typical British style of support with backs against the wall!
6. Where is the Barmy Army heading?
We’re just aiming to be bigger and better…it is a brand and style of support which can translate into other formats of the sport, especially after a great summer of ODI cricket where we secured an allocation of tickets for our members at Lord’s for the final. We’re hoping to continue to grow our membership and secure bigger allocations of tickets in both the UK and overseas to get behind the England team.
7. Thoughts on the Hundred?
Looking forward to seeing how it is going to work. Let’s hope all the research, planning and money that’s gone into it pays off and it’s for the good for English cricket.
8. What do you think about England’s current test side?
It’s very much a work in progress and I really like the fact that we are looking longer term for the next Ashes series in 2021/22. We have a strong core of 7/8 players who will be around for the next few years and the exciting thing is we just need to find the other 4 or 5 players who are going to step up and cement their place. We’re definitely heading in the right direction under Joe Root and Silverwood and we’re looking forward to getting behind them in South Africa in a few weeks’ time!
9. What do you hope the new site gives Barmy Army fans?
We’re hoping the new site can become the ‘go-to’ place for English cricket fans with the introduction of new and improved content, quizzes, the re-introduction of the forum and much more. We have always been the place to come for advice on tours and travel, whether you’re travelling independent or as part of a Barmy Travel tour. It’s exciting times.