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Somshuvra Laha, Hindustan Times
Kolkata, December 09, 2012
“Cup of T20 sir?” asks an Indian attendant. “No thank you. I prefer something longer and more sophisticated,” replies the English lion, reading a newspaper with the headline 'Test is best'. Every Barmy Army shirt worn on England's tour of India has this printed on its back, a clear indication of their affinity for the longer version of the game while taking a small dig at India for their love for T20 cricket.

And if you thought they are just a bunch of fans wildly singing 'Oh Graeme Swann is bowling, He's going to get you out,' on Saturday, here's a nugget of information --- Barmy Army is a full-fledged limited company too.
"It's a limited company run by our co-founder Paul Burnham, who manages the office," said Becky-Fairlie Clarke, Barmy
Army's media contact, who has travelled with the team here.

Started as an initiative to support the England team by a few friends during the 1994-95 Ashes tour, the Barmy Army now has over 5,000 members.

In addition to providing support to England, the Barmy Army also provides match-day tickets and sells T-shirts and other merchandise through an online shop. That accounts for the bulk of the income of the company, which has a finance manager, membership manager and two people looking after the merchandising.

The England cricket team always had a good following around the world. But the Barmy Army brings exclusivity as they only swear by Tests. Clarke put it down to a matter of choice. "Although the Barmy Army supports England in all forms of the game, our preferred format is Test cricket," she said.

At all cost
Apart from travelling to Australia, which has become a ritual now, the Barmy Army has also toured the sub-continent a few times. The tour package isn't quite cheap though. A six-night stay in Kolkata costs 1,595 pounds (approximately R 1.4 lakh) per person, which also guarantees tickets to the Test and a return trip to London.

But money is no hindrance for these fanatic supporters. "Barmy Army members include web developers, financial advisors, airline pilots, painters and decorators, auditors. We all work hard to be able to travel to support England," said Clarke.
Welcomed across the world, the Barmy Army though hasn't quite hit it off at home. Famous Billy the Trumpet, who was playing away to glory at Eden on Saturday, is banned in some English grounds. But the biggest blow comes from the Lord's. Clarke however offered a different stand. “The Barmy Army isn't banned at Lord's, we just don't sell tickets there.”