July 1, 2014

Indian in England 2014

A background score to idle afternoons

Sidharth Monga
A fan leaps onto Kapil Dev's back after Kapil took a catch to dismiss Viv Richards in the final of the 1983 World Cup
You won't see them this summer, but cricket in England will always evoke memories of pitch invasions and ODIs in whites  © PA Photos
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Things about cricket in England, as randomly thought, reread and rewatched on the nine-and-half-hour flight from Mumbai to London.

"I knew one once," says Major Gowen of women. "I must have been keen on her because I took her to see India. At The Oval. Fine match. A marvellous finish. Sunny had to get 33 in about a half an hour." BBC has taken out the racially offensive follow-up joke from the re-runs of Fawlty Towers, but the rest must sum up the place cricket holds in lives of Englishmen.

Its unobtrusiveness. Like the mild gentle applause at its grounds, the cricket coverage hardly ever screamed for attention or commitment. For an Indian kid you didn't have to wake up early (Australia and New Zealand), stay up in the night (the West Indies), worry about exams (South Africa) or miss school (India). During the summer days, it was there, a background score to idle afternoons. A reassurance that all was fine with the world.

Richie Benaud. Somehow the smoothness and the mellifluousness seemed more at home at BBC.

Football-style presentations in balconies, and not out on the field. Even until as late as the 1999 World Cup final.

Crowd invasions.

Intimate viewing. Has any cricket spectator ever looked more like a boss than the man at the bottom-left of the picture at the top of your screen? Chillin' like a villain. Don't miss the man on Kapil's back.

Duke. Much darker than other cricket balls. Almost cherry-brown.

Posthumous swing. Movement after the ball has passed the stumps and before it has reached the wicketkeeper.

County pro. Azhar at Derbyshire, Marshall at Hampshire, Majid at Glamorgan. These bonds are unlikely to be replicated in cricket.

Country with most support for opposition, mainly through expats living in this most cosmopolitan cricketing nation. West Indies, India and Pakistan - at different times in their history - have played "home" games against England in England.

Look up as much as you look down. Fortunes and series turn with one stray cloud over Headingley.

Mike Jackson. Helped along by Rupert Psmith, a prodigy if ever there was one. Too bad England selectors never took a shine to him.

ODIs in whites. For the longest time possible, England persevered against coloured clothes. Now even first-class cricket here is played in numbered jerseys.

When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease. Greatest song sung about cricket.

The slope. Of course the slope.

Village cricket. Two kinds. Of PG Wodehouse where everything is nice and nothing bad ever happens. Of Marcus Berkmann's Rain Men, where "no subterfuge is too low". "Tactical use of partially sighted umpires, stomach-deadening teas, donkey-drop bowler bowling out of the late-afternoon sun, scoreboard 'foul-ups', ball-switching, double-headed coins." How idyllic.

Roger Waters was a wicketkeeper in his school's first XI, not a selfish opening batsman.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by brusselslion on (July 3, 2014, 8:24 GMT)

I take it the in-flight entertainment wasn't up to much?

"Roger Waters was a wicketkeeper in his school's first XI, not a selfish opening batsman" If your jottings are in chronological order, then thank heavens that you landed when you did. It wasn't a moment too soon!!

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 12:45 GMT)

"Mike Jackson. Helped along by Rupert Psmith, a prodigy if ever there was one. Too bad England selectors never took a shine to him."

Isn't this a Wodehouse reference? Or am I missing something?

Posted by Greatest_Game on (July 2, 2014, 4:34 GMT)

"Roger Waters was a wicketkeeper in his school's first XI, not a selfish opening batsman."

Sid, that line is unbelievably priceless? The somewhat cliched term "pregnant with meaning" was coined for that sentence. Samuel Beckett wide be flushed with pride to fit so much into so few words. Godot is found!

Posted by Ennarkay on (July 1, 2014, 14:45 GMT)

Just zoom in on the photo and look at the 'boss'. That's remarkably Gayle, attitude and all.

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