It’s not cricket, British prime minister David Cameron has told India while the game’s greatest spectacle is underway here in the old colony. British lads Cairn and Vodafone — and sterling fellows too — are playing on a queer pitch in the subcontinent, the Conservative resident of 10 Downing Street has written to Manmohan Singh. The umpiring isn’t up to scratch. Energy company Cairn is being bowled a bodyline every second delivery and nobody seems to notice. Before that, telecom company Vodafone was declared leg before wicket when it obviously wasn’t. Gentlemen don’t use tax googlies and regulatory bouncers on the Oval! Surely, good chaps don’t get too nosy about details like tax dodges and unpaid royalties, do they?
While lesser teams like Mauritius could be accused of sledging, the British have never entertained any such notions. Their belief in fairplay runs so deep (didn’t they gift the cricket-playing world the bloody idea?) that they don’t set much store by that beastly third umpire down at the World Trade Organisation. You know old boy, the best way to settle differences — if such things do arise among gentlemen — is to slap on a pair of boxing gloves, and play by the Marquess of Queensberry’s rules.
But the Brits can work things out over a couple of bitters at the Turf Tavern the next time those desis pop over for a dekko at Nuffield’s. Mr Cameron and his boys, of course, came down from Brasenose. The Oxford tie goes much beyond mere trifles, like the fact that Britain doesn’t happen to be among India’s top ten trading partners.