August 16, 2007

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan on India in England, 2007

Can I have a deep-fried Mars bar?

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
Majid Haq edges to slip early in Scotland's innings, Kenya v Scotland, World Cricket League final, Nairobi, February 7, 2007
 © International Cricket Council
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This is the greatest country in the world. Not because of the kilt, not because of the Glasgow Celtic Football Club, not because of King Bruce’s legacy but simply because they deep fry Mars bars. Chip shops around Glasgow fry the chocolate bar, using it as a batter for puddings, sausages and haggis, a typical Scottish delicacy. The recipe is quite simple. Chill, but do not freeze, the Mars bar by leaving it in a fridge, or freezer, for a short while. Mix the milk, flour and egg in a bowl. Whisk together to create a creamy batter. Heat the oil. Coat the Mars bar completely in batter. Lower into hot oil and fry until batter is golden brown. Serve. Remember, no crackles, no Kit-Kat, no Cadbury. Only Mars bars please.

In terms of priority, though, football is way higher than Mars bars. Last evening the city suddenly turned sleepy. No taxis in sight, hardly any traffic and rows and rows of cars parked on the sideways. After an hour of aimless wandering we are told that the city’s dead state is a weekly phenomenon. “Celtic are playin’ boy,” says what appears to be the only active taxi driver in Glasgow. “Come on, quick. They’re trailin’ by 1.’ We’re told we’re in luck. How on earth? “If Celtic wa playin’ Rangers, you’re goners’.

Celtic v Rangers, according to people of the greatest city, is the greatest rivalry in the greatest sport. So, if you haven’t guessed already, cricket doesn’t matter that much. Scotland’s captain, Ryan Watson, works as a business development officer for Caledonian Brewery. He arrived late for the pre-match press conference yesterday and light-heartedly said, “I was held up selling beer.”

Wicketkeeper Colin Smith is a policeman while Majid Haq, the offspinner, runs a family takeaway shop. In fact during one of his games, his father was ill, his uncle wasn’t in town and the only other person who could man the shop was in jail. Surely, this is the greatest city in the world.

**

Announcement of the day: the partnership between Kyle McCallum and Gavin Hamilton is the highest partnership on this ground since 1959.

Considering this is the first international match here, it was the highest partnership in any form of cricket. Records, as they always say, are meant to be broken.

**

A elderly English journalist spent a fair share of the morning trying to find out the temperature. First he approached the local media officer, then the scorer, then a few others. Nobody had a clue. Finally he logged on to the internet and learnt it was 15 degrees centigrade. “Before the internet age we’d say, ‘Fairly chilly, occasionally warm’. Now we need numbers’.”

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo

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