Eleven Upright Englishmen

I never thought I’d read anything like this ever again. But it was in today’s Times.

So touched was I – so deeply moved – by the decision of the England team to return to India after the terrorist attacks, that I willed them to win.

When England’s young opening batsman Alastair Cook read out “an open and public statement of support for the Indian people following the tragic events in Mumbai” I found it hard to resist the courage, the poise, the sheer decency of this England cricket team. There is a kind of Englishman who is admired by Indians, who was admired, even, in the old colonial days. I know that because my parents’ generation speaks of the type. Amid the boors and oiks that England is so good at producing (and was so good at exporting to its colonies), there is – and always has been – the Upright Englishman.

Eleven of them took the field in Chennai, and for three days and a half outplayed an Indian side that had been expecting no contest. And so I cheered for Strauss, and Swann, and Monty, and Pietersen – yes, Pietersen. Let no one say he’s not English. England lost the Test, in the end, but what of that? They were snuffed out by magic that was, somehow, appropriate for the occasion – magic conjured to meet the standards of eleven men of courage, eleven Upright Englishmen.

Thankyou Tunku Varadarajan, and the pleasure, including that from Tendulkar’s century is all ours. We’re honoured.