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Tradition that connects people

Sport, beer and beef are three things a British male’s life revolves around. An ideal evening is often a pint or three in a pub and a game on the tube. But, how often is that game cricket, writes Arjun Sen.

india Updated: Jul 07, 2009 23:09 IST
Arjun Sen

Sport, beer and beef are three things a British male’s life revolves around. An ideal evening is often a pint or three in a pub and a game on the tube. But, how often is that game cricket?

Well, if the almost blissful ignorance of the locals towards the World T20 was a yardstick, then cricket, irrespective of the format, is not exactly filling the English with excitement. Even as their team knocked India out of the World Cup, the locals could hardly be bothered, instead staying glued to the British and Irish Lions’ rugby series in South Africa.

I met Peter Loadfoot, a 38-year-old plumber, at one such pub. Wearing his brand new Lions shirt, Loadfoot was halfway in to his third pint of Guinness, when he decided he had had enough of watching his team lose. Turning his back to the television – and probably on the team – he initiated a conversation.

“You a rugby fan?” he asked. Now, normally, if you tell someone you are a journalist covering a World Cup, you are met with one-liners like: “Oh, to have your job!”

But that was not quite how Loadfoot responded. “World Cup? But I thought the next one was in South Africa,” referring to the 2010 football World Cup.

“Cricket has never done it for me,” he said. “It is something the Asians are crazy about. To be honest, it’s only the Ashes for me.”

And that is a sentiment that many others seem to share. “Cricket hit its peak in the ’05 Ashes, the country came together to beat the Aussies. It hasn’t come close since.” Gary Wallace, a 27-year-old marketing executive said.

And he is right. 2005 was the year when cricket became the ‘new football’. Since, however, cricket has gone back to bringing up the rear.

No matter what the team’s fortunes, the majority could hardly be bothered. That, though, could change once the first ball is bowled today. Beating Germany in football is probably the only sentiment that rivals that of winning the urn.

And for the next month and a half, the English will once again get behind their team and cricket will be the sport of choice. Loadfoot, too, could be one of those converts.