ICC World Cup under the English summer
There’s a saying in England, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” While London does experience four separate seasons, light showers and cloudy skies are prevalent throughout the year. From the fresh spring blooms to the winter’s first snowfall and rain & sunshine during summer, every London season is stunning. Ten ICC World Cup teams have by now packed their kit smartly and at the moment ready to move different venues no matter what the weather brings.
Its English summer, people are out coming with raincoat to umbrella for 48 matches for the period of three fortnights. There are eleven venues. It’s from Trent Bridge (Nottingham) to the riverside Durham, the Oval (London), Old Trafford (Manchester), Lord’s (London), Headingly (Leeds), Hampshire Bowl (Southampton), Edgbaston (Birmingham), Taunton County, Cardiff Wales and Bristol County. It’s such a beautiful places as well as names too. I wonder how venues would have been different had the ICC World Cup took place at my native northeast.
While I was holidaying in upper Shillong recently, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind. The cool breeze, mild sun and Mountain View made a pleasant weekend at Jiva resort Cherrapunjee. The sun played hide and seek throughout the day after rains and squall. They are very much alike English summers where one witnesses rain and little sunshine in four days county cricket. Traditionally, the weather in English summer is unpredictable. Ours in eastern summers means a holiday for school where flood and incessant rain fell for several days that make havoc to our life.
But England is different as people love the climate. The summer falls during May-July with average temperature from 10 to 23° Celsius and rainfall from 41 to 50 mm that remains London generally mild and pleasant. Besides cricket in Lord’s, English summer offers tourist a delightful tour of tennis and football. The most prestigious Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world is an annual attraction on outdoor grass through first fortnight of July. Wembley is the most iconic football stadium in the world. Even county grounds appetite for good cricket. There are many reasons to be in England. It says life beyond sport in London is unlikely.
One of my earliest memories with English connection is of eating food with spoon and fork by British people but they were imaginary for us. As a young boy, listening running cricket commentary on radio was nostalgic moments. The historic Lord’s is referred to as the Home of Cricket and world’s oldest sporting museum. In graduation, the English poets have been attracted to us for its arranging words with musical rhythm and classically rhyme inside verse. William Wordsworth, John Keats, TS Eliot are simply unforgettable where I found music through their lines. They’re a delightful secluded garden.
Cricket has been played in England since the 16th century. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) founded in 1787 and based at Lord’s Cricket ground since 1814. There are eighteen historic counties from England and Wales. The Lord’s has always been special for every player who ever played at the English ground. Scoring hundred at Lord’s was a big milestone. There are greats like Tendulkar, Gavaskar, Ponting, Lara and Kallis failed to make a three-figure score in test at Lord’s. The spectacular environments under the English sun are memorable for witnesses. A batsman walks with remarkable serenity to the wicket to bat for his country facing swing bowling attack. They are simply amazing to watch live.
For a cricket connoisseur, it’s said that there is “rain in the air” when the cricket season arrives in England. It doesn’t always rain but it’s a factor that dominates pre-match calculations on the circuit. London goers always carry an umbrella. The Lord’s crowd are generally well-behaved expecting warm welcome, with hearty clapping and cheers. Player might get booed for bad behaviour sometimes a muted applause.
But the world cup is different. There are supporters coming from the different parts of the world. The Barmy Army make watching cricket more fun and much more popular who uses flags, banners, songs and chants to encourage the English team. Fans are really mad and crazy even when England loses. Jump to Cricket fan, India’s Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary, Pakistan’s Chacha Sufi Jalil and Sri Lankan’s Percy Abeysekera have passion to watch and support cricket around the world.
They aren’t only known crusaders. For fans of Indian cricket, there are enough supporters to head to Great Britain to ensure overwhelming presence for Indian team. Also there are billion supporters praying at home. While the batsman faces daunting task of scoring runs but the bowler celebrates the advantage of swing and seam from benevolent weather, which can be a nightmare for the batsmen to tackle but spectators watch some fascinating contests between the bat and the ball during this summer of 2019 that will showcase the best of cricket in ICC World Cup hosted by England and Wales.
Cricket in England is challenging because the conditions change so fast thus behaves differently in summer. A team might win the toss in sunshine and by the time openers are out to bat it may become cloudy and end up repenting the decision. British have a culture of watching sport. The ease of access and comfort in watching a game is unmatched. Contrast it with the rush and pleasure of watching it in India. Will Indian cricket revisit 1983 at Lord’s this time? Is ICC World Cup going to be weather dependent this time? India has already won the first match against South Africa under the typical English summer. However passionate fans around the world will continue cheer for the upcoming matches to their respective team in that beautiful summer!
The writer is based in Guwahati