Divided loyalties create turbulence in England-India series

  • Khurram Habib, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Sep 09, 2014 01:18 IST

When MS Dhoni was asked by a reporter about the crowd booing England at the T20I at Edgbaston, he said he didn't hear it. But then he decided to reply. "Did you ever ask about (Ravindra) Jadeja being booed? It is the last day of the tour, so I don't want to start another controversy."

Former England skipper Nasser Hussain, when asked at Leeds whether he had seen such a reaction during his playing days, said, "I don't think I saw England being booed like this."

Perry Hall Playing Fields lie six-seven miles from the Edgbaston cricket ground. They host local league matches on Sundays, with many British South Asian teams in the fray. Although the league has finished, there were still two clubs playing a friendly match hours before the T20I was to start.

A member of Birmingham league's Super Punjab Club, which comprises British Indians and Pakistanis, while chalking out the plan for the day, said, "I am going with my sons to cheer India." Both his sons, born in England, rooted for India.

"I guess it is a culture thing. Ideally, our support should be for England. But many still identify with India more than England," he says. "It is also about players you admire and then, there are some other issues too."

A 30-something British South Asian, who owns a lower division club in Leeds, says, "Booing is taking things a bit too far but sometimes support is rooted to culture and quality. When I was in school in Leeds, there were boys who would root for Newcastle against Leeds in football because they could connect. Similarly, because Leeds has been in a lower division and is poor, kids here root for Man United or Liverpool. But this is not accepted at the national level. Billions of pounds come to England thanks to the Premier League. But when they go to the World Cup, they crash out in the first round."

Norman Tebbit, a Conservative Party politician, coined the term 'Cricket test', also called 'Tebbit test'. He said that the Asian and Caribbean immigrants who don't support the England cricket team have not integrated with the country. It led to a controversy then. But, now, the term is being referred to quite often in conversations.

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