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A welcome sight for Barmy Army faithful

Why didn’t they play Monty before, asks one

Gulf News

Mumbai: They may not be fluent yet, but Mumbai has proven that England have started to learn the language of spin.

Unused in the first Test, Monty Panesar crafted his own tale of tweak to rip through the Indian order at the Wankhede Stadium, while Alastair Cook and Man of the Match Kevin Pietersen provided the fireworks with the bat.

It was a welcome sight to the Barmy Army faithful who have endured a tough year watching their heroes undone by the subtlety of spin. The rot started in the UAE against Pakistan, carried on against Sri Lanka in the April series and continued in that country during their failed attempt to retain the T20 World Cup.

It may still be hit and miss at times — but after the carnage of Ahmadabad, Mumbai has proven a massive hit with the England fans, who have embraced everything this jewel of India has to offer. “It’s a great city and there’s no place quite like India,” says Simon Cole, an expat from Dubai who has made the relatively short hope across the water to take in the spectacle.

This is the event manager’s second tour of the year following Sri Lanka, and even though he only arrived in Mumbai the day before the start of the tour, he’s already packed in the sort of sightseeing agenda that would make a seasoned traveller wince.

It’s a similar story for mother-of-two Sally Donnelly — one of the famous Barmy Army wives, who have been turned on to the noble game by their husbands.“We’ve been to Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Australia but I wasn’t too sure about coming to India. My friends think I’m crazy but it’s just been amazing,” she says.

Fortunately, the cricket too has provided scintillating entertainment with England comprehensively wrapping things up on the morning of day four.

“Why didn’t we pick Monty and play like that in the first Test?” says Greg Howard, who’s off to celebrate the tourists levelling the series with a slap-up meal at Leopold’s in Colaba.

Looking at the smiling faces of the Barmy Army as they shuffle past security on the way out, it looks like it could be a good night in Mumbai.

The lessons may have proven tough, but with England finally showing they may be ready to take on the world of spin, their faithful fans are going to enjoy the highs as they come.