How do you describe a country that is old as the hills, rich in history, often bizarre, always unique and usually downright quirky. How do you describe Great Britain in other words. A nation of contradictions that has fuddled, fussed and blundered her way through centuries of Empire, countless conflicts, numerous inventions and seemingly always comes out smiling in the end. Such a complex country, such simplicity. Terribly contrary.
How about cricket as the perfect example. I can stand in front of a class of students for 2 hours solid, explaining boundaries, silly mid ons, limited overs, test series, bowling techniques and run outs, absolutely confident that at the end I will see vacant expressions all round, none of them any the wiser as to what sort of game this is and all absolutely perplexed as to exacly how such a game came to exist.
It really is much like explaining how a little island with a small population ended up ruling half the world, giving the world the best music and inventing 90% of everything used daily in the average Japanese household – so I’ve read. There just is no logical explanation for some things.
I thought of this because of the recent cricket world cup. It started with the murder of a coach, which has turned into a very British Sherlock Holmes/Agatha Christie mystery, and ended with a logo board falling onto an official’s head during a press conference, which was called to explain why the final ended in such a farce because no one in charge of the final seemed to know the rules. All so, so British. Oh, and the Australians won….
But the most British thing about cricket of all? Well, the Ashes are perhaps the most important competition in cricket. And this is a very, very British affair. Firstly, to ensure a chance of winning, we allow only two teams to compete, with England (representing Britain) being one of them. And then, regardless of how badly the Australians thrash us, we refuse to hand over the trophy and keep it at Lords in London anyway! And the Greeks think they have a chance of getting the Elgin marbles back?!