Is cricket to be our most important cultural asset in this relatively new century? Are cricketers already our most important diplomats?
While in Rome … do as the Greeks?
The Greeks gave the early Italian tribes who would later become the Romans their alphabet, weights and measures, coinage, many of their gods and cults. The Romans saw in Hellenistic cities a comfortable, enjoyable lifestyle. Their houses acquired columns, statues, mosaics, tapestries and paintings on the walls. Even the eating of dinner while reclining came from the Greeks.Roman trade, banking, administration, art, literature, philosophy, earth science and sport bore the marks of Greek influence. For rich young Romans it was a must to have studied in Athens and to be able to speak Greek.
John Wayne, Walt Disney and Blue Jeans
America used Hollywood to colonize the world. They didn’t need to invade both to succeed economically and to dominate culturally. They sold the American dream first in the cinemas and then through the TV sets of the world.
And then, despite spending billions of dollars on nuclear armament, the fall of the Soviet Union came about when the people there rose up against their masters in pursuit of the freedom to be able to buy a thousand minutely differing variations of blue jeans. (Third Man exaggerates to make a point but only slightly.)
TM wishes the Chinese played cricket, but they don’t … yet. In fact they are busy trying to topple America by selling jeans to them and keeping the exchange rate low enough to destroy Western economies. Well, if it worked for the Americans against the Soviet Block it could well work again.
Thankfully India Adores Cricket
Now as India stands on the verge of a bright future it is accepting the culture of Hollywood and transforming it into Bollywood; and the culture cricket and transforming it into Cricetainment.
For this they need players – the best players from all over the globe including those from the UK. Our culture as expressed through the cricket and lifestyles of Flintoff, the English dimension to the Peiterson brand, Morgan, Bopara, and others will have their influence on how India progresses, what it values, how it acts, where it trades, what it buys and who it supports on the international stage as the century moves on.
A couple of runs off the bat
ONE: We need to properly value these relatively young men and for them to know and carry comfortably the responsibilities they hold and the opportunities they have to safeguard and develop the UK’s future.
TWO: We need Government to recognize that for every pound they spend on diplomacy, embassies and foreign affairs initiatives another pound might be more effectively spent on promoting the enjoyment of the game and the emerging talent in this country.
And Our Next Ambassador to China
When Preston born Andrew Flintoff hangs up his three stripes, he could be our best choice for our next Ambassador to China.