Reasons to be cheerful

I’m never sure whether cricket is viewed as a niche sport in this country and therefore it may well have passed you by that the World Cup is currently being held at various grounds.

As with all major tournaments there are always elements that cause griping – the weather, the view that the semi-finalists were pre-ordained, the length of the tournament. But then, in a curiously English way, everything changed.

The weather got warmer, England lost a couple of games they should have won, opening up the competition, and the anticipated run avalanche has so far not materialised. In the middle of it all there have been games that have kept you on the edge of your seat until the final over (two of which involved Afghanistan).

The most amazing thing though has been the crowds. The grounds at most games have been full, the crowds noisy and good natured. The reason for this, and the reason that World Cups in England are always the best atmosphere, is the support levels for India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. By comparison, the atmosphere at Lords for Australia v New Zealand, where the ground was full, was like watching a game of snooker.

These fans are all UK residents, supporting the countries of their birth. Many of the fans would otherwise describe themselves as British, second and third generation Asians. The multi-culturalness of our society allows crowds such as India and Pakistan, who, in all other aspects of their relations are essentially at war, to happily enjoy each others company for six or seven hours (not to mention their entirely peaceful day to day living).

As we appear to be moving increasingly to a polarised society, we really should take a step back and realise what an amazing space our country gives to all nationalities. This is what we should be focussing on, not a little Britain, isolationist approach.

Cricket, even though it is only played at the highest level by a handful of countries, has the widest support base of any sport in this country, cross culturally. Way more than rugby union, way more than football (even the amazing Lionnesses).

In these difficult times, that is something to be cherished.

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