Monday, 30 July 2007
like a record baby....
Sitting behind us in the crowd at the test match yesterday was a hospitality box full of young British Asians (the accents were pure midlands, innit?). India were well on top of the game and were building up a substantial lead over England, putting themselves in an increasingly dominant position. England were toiling away manfully in the field, and although to my eyes the game was an awful lot more absorbing than it had been on the Saturday, I could well understand why the more casual observer might be starting to get bored.
The inhabitants in the box behind me were proudly waving an Indian flag over their balcony and greetng every boundary that the Indian batsmen hit with raucous chants of "India! India! India!".
Fair enough. They were quite noisy, but far less irritating than the increasingly drunken chants of "ENG-GER-LAND, ENG-GER-LAND" emanating from the Barmy Army in the William Clarke Stand. I know it's not Norman Tebbit's cup of tea, but I don't mind it in the least when British citizens don't support the "home" team. Why on earth should anyone feel threatened by that? What's wrong with people celebrating all of the aspects of their heritage? Besides, the run rate was slowing down as the English bowlers started to get into the game, and hits to the boundary were few and far between... so I was starting to get interested in the game. Were England too far behind now to stage a comeback and save the game?
The lack of action from India didn't seem to worry these excitable supporters just behind me though. Oh no. Not when they had Monty to cheer.
When he wasn't weaving a spell with the ball from the Pavilion end, Monty Panesar was fielding just in front of us - well within shouting range.
Monty was born in Luton and lives in Northampton, but he was the first Sikh to play cricket for England, is fast becoming one of the best bowlers in the world and is very big news indeed. He's polite, well-spoken, tee-total and extremely talented. For young British Asians, it would be hard to think of a better role-model.
Every move he made was greeted by an enthusiastic shout of "MONNNNNNNTTTTTYYYY!" from the young India fans behind me. At one point, there was a slightly frustrated cry of "Monty! Make something happen!"
It seems that for the young British Indian, test match cricket is a great game as long as one of India or Monty Panesar wins.
Sometimes I love this country. I really do.