Cricket is now the second most popular sport in the world after football.

No summer village at Old Blighty would be complete without a cricket match. After making a first appearance in the south east of England in the mid 16e Century cricket is currently experiencing something of a boom, even here in Spain.

In September there will be a commemorative match to celebrate 40 years since the first match played in 1982 between Madrid and Barcelona.

According to John Woodward, Chairman of Madrid Cricket Club, there are now 5 teams based at Madrid’s new ground in Moratalaz and the sport is gaining popularity across Spain such as Santander, Vitoria and in Granada where a new ground is in progress. in addition to Cártamar near Malaga.

Woodward also reports growing interest from schoolchildren where he runs a program of activities to introduce cricket to Spanish schools. “Kids love it because they can just grab a bat and smash a ball. After a few sessions, the skills can be developed over time,” says Woodward as he plans to introduce the sport to dozens more. schools this coming year.

Woodward is also federating the sport and is particularly encouraged by the interest in youth cricket as young Spanish children embrace the game.

Cricket is also enjoyed by local sub-continental communities residing in Spain, as evidenced by the large viewership in Barcelona.

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Fortuitously, having once been the preserve of the settlers, India’s cricket team is consistently ranked among the top 5 teams in the world and unlike the UK where football has supplanted much of the fervor associated with cricket , support in India is growing.

India has long been a recurring destination in my family with erratic results. When my brother announced that he was planning to travel there with a 17 year old classmate, my dad wasn’t very enthusiastic about the idea, so he hesitated because he had set a vacation budget maximum of £300 per child. Knowing my brother’s determination against all odds, I was not surprised to hear him smugly explain that he had found flights on Afghanistan Airlines for £250, which would leave him with £50 for costs month’s trip.

In 1985, that might have been considered sufficient for an extremely parsimonious backpacker. Left with no argument for retaliation, my father was forced to admit that Alasdair left.

Suffice it to say the flight was not direct. After a quick layover in Moscow, the plane headed for Kabul, with the pilot aborting the landing at the last minute as the airport evaporated in plumes of smoke. There was a hasty announcement on the tannoy passengers being told that Kabul wasn’t such a good idea after all and that they would be aiming for Karachi instead.

After a torturous yo-yo journey around most of the subcontinent, they finally landed in Delhi during the monsoon season. It didn’t take long for Alasdair to fall into the storm drains, run out of money, have a car accident, and cut short his journey armed with plenty of life lessons and beautiful photography. Fortunately, before Alasdair was beset by all these disasters, he managed to fulfill my grandmother’s request.

A few days before she left London, she asked him to obtain a photograph of the gravestone of her great-great-uncle, Captain Henry Handcock, who was killed by a tiger at Bankipor in 1858.

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Slightly perplexed and knowing that this part of India was not close to his route through Rajasthan, Alasdair quickly phoned International Directory Inquires and asked for the phone number of the largest international hotel in the area. A few minutes later, he telephoned the reception of the Holiday Inn in Ooty, explaining his predicament. The receptionist was happy to help if he could send them £20 for their trouble as they would have to send someone deep in the woods to find the grave. Alasdair duly sent the money and two weeks later, much to my grandmother’s delight, a Polaroid was sent to London. Adding flowers is a very emotional and heartfelt touch.

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Fortunately, Bankipor, or rather now Bandipur, as it is now called, is actually a tiger reserve actively involved in the preservation of the species, so there will be less chance of other victims being surprised by our friends. striped felines while chasing them.

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