Since moving to Amsterdam two years ago, my husband and I have been to 23 weekend trips together. Never in a million years would I have guessed that my absolute favourite will be a weekend trip to a place like Birmingham—so exotic, so alluring. (Please sense the sarcasm.) Birmingham is in England’s West Midlands. After London, it’s the most populous city in all of the United Kingdom. It’s more as a business hub as opposed to a tourist destination. To put it very simply, imagine London without the tourist spots, add a lot of pretty canals, and you’ll get Birmingham.
Starting last month, the city of Birmingham has probably seen an influx of visitors that are not the usual businessman-crisp-suit-rolling-briefcase archetype. This year, together with Wales, England is hosting the very last Champions Trophy tournament organized by the International Cricket Council. Birmingham’s very own Edgbaston Cricket Ground has been selected as a venue for a number of games therefore turning the city into a Mecca for cricket devotees.
TICKETS SOLD OUT
This past weekend, my husband and I flew from Amsterdam to Birmingham to catch a game between arch rivals India and Pakistan. It’s common knowledge that the rivalry between the two nations go far and deep; since 1947, four wars have broken between the two countries, one as recent as 1999. Even today, violence prevails in the Indian-Pakistan border and casualties are reported almost everyday. It’s no surprise that when it comes to cricket—the No. 1 sport in both countries—stakes are always high. Whether it’s for a place in the finals, an actual title, or for sheer bragging rights, India vs. Pakistan cricket matches are always, always sold out within a few hours of tickets being released.
THE PILGRIMAGE TO EDGBASTON
We bought our tickets as early as January, close to six months before the actual match. At that point, tickets are already sold out so we had to buy them from a third party seller for three times the price (!) of a regular ticket.
As a fairly new follower of cricket, I was excited to see a Live match. But for my husband, a true blue (India) cricket fan, the day can’t come soon enough. We flew into Birmingham on Friday night and upon arrival I already started to get a better understanding of how special this game is:
Right outside passport control, we got to talking to an Indian gentleman
who came all the way from Oakville, Ontario in Canada, for one night, just to see the match.
And we thought coming from The Netherlands was a big deal.
SPIRIT OF CRICKET
We arrived at Edgbaston over an hour before the match began and immediately, I realized why billions of people love this game so much. Over 24,000 fans in Edgbaston from all parts of the world came to support their home teams with unquestionable passion and fervor. Seeing the head gears, face paints, head-to-toe outfits, banners, and countless flags, I now understand why some claim that cricket players are revered as heroes if not gods. Judging by the devotion I saw from the fans, cricket is a religion.
Although I really enjoyed watching the players (especially the brilliant fielding of the Indian cricket team),
I must say that I really loved watching the fans.
The catchy chants, the silly Mexican wave, and the intoxicating atmosphere have me hooked. I cannot wait until my next Live cricket match.