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A midsummer English obsession

india Updated: Jul 07, 2009 23:12 IST
Venkat Ananth

It’s that time of the summer in England when football is being played in the transfer bazaar and the Wimbledon’s extended the wait for a British champion by one more year. Even the British Lions have returned home defeated from South Africa.

Once in a while at such times, the oldest tradition and rivalry in cricket --- The Ashes --- comes to England and takes centre-stage.

Stroll around the busy Bond Street in central London and you would see some of the most in-your-face advertising on the series. Kevin Pietersen has replaced Lewis Hamilton as Vodafone’s mascot and even an anti-perspirant brand endorsed by Andrew Flintoff has a larger-than-life visibility. A walk into the Adidas store on any other day would have Chelsea and Liverpool merchandise on display. Not now though.

They’ve been replaced by the England cricket whites, training shirts and many more. Within moments of display, a large set of England replica shirts were sold. Even publishers are not far behind with updated autobiographies of Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Andrew Strauss and Monty Panesar selling briskly.

On Monday, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss’s press conferences were broadcast live in many pubs around central London.

Not just that, the England & Wales Cricket Board has continued with the interesting initiative, first started in 2005, called Cricket in The Park where they have installed giant screens in some of landmark places around the Test venue. Even, some of the offices in the prominent Canary Wharf have put up big screens. One could hear fanatical support even in the Tube. Such is the buzz around The Ashes in London.

If the cricket promises to be anything close to what we saw in 2005, it would reignite the interest among the English and they hope, revive its dwindling popularity amongst the youth. And, in a small but subtle way, tell sceptics that Test cricket is well and truly alive.