LONDON: Miriam, in her mid 20s, didn’t know what cricket was, until a couple of years back. Hailing from the outskirts of Naples in Italy, the only time she came across the term was when she started learning about insects. Having grown up in Milan and worked in Brussels and Cologne, football has been the only sport she has been hooked on to.
She was one of the many seated at the Oval on Sunday, understanding what it is to be present among two Asian fans, for whom this is more than just a game. “I couldn’t believe I was dating her when I mentioned ‘I’ve got a game of cricket to watch’, and the first thing she asked was, ‘Is it the one involving horses?’ It was a facepalm moment for me you know,” Miriam’s boyfriend Vikrant Singh, who hails from Jaipur, says. He doesn’t know where the horse came from!
On her first ever visit to a cricket ground, Miriam was amused how lazy this game is. For two years, he has been trying to teach me cricket, as after five minutes, I doze off. There’s no athleticism or anything. All I can see is one or two guys chasing the ball and the rest happily having their hands behind their backs and cheering. And some of them have bellies! This isn’t a sport. Look at football, how agile and athletic they are. I don’t know why so many turn up to watch this, and why a game should go on for eight hours.”
Behind them is Izam Ahmed Khan, an Afghani, who has picked up cricket after moving to the UK in the early 2000s when the war was on. Back then, he didn’t understand cricket but now, he speaks like a pro and tells Miriam, “It’s confusing at the start. You won’t know why if the ball lands over the ropes on the full, it’s a six, and if it bounces, it’s a four. And there is Test cricket, where it took me a while to understand terms like lead and follow-on. My Pakistani friends took a long time to teach me these and don’t worry, your man will teach you too,” he says.
Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman helped Pakistan post a 300-plus total, and it was bound to test the Indian batting. That’s how one Indian man sees it. “Papa, you don’t watch enough cricket these days. This is good for us, Kohli likes to chase, whatever Pakistan scores,” his son reassures as ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ is all over the Oval. That was shortly before Mohammed Amir started marking his run-up.