The US is embracing Englishness, says Martin Fullard.


Some view the end of the world based on the sighting of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It’s quite a bold thing to behold, I’d imagine. However, I believe the end of the world will be signalled by something even more bizarre: the Americans embracing cricket.

Well, it’s time to heed the government’s advice and start stockpiling tins of beans because that is exactly what is happening.

The Cricket World Cup kicks off (bails off?) in May, and ticket sales have been going swimmingly. I was at UKinbound’s AGM in February and someone in the know told me that English fans were leading the way (no surprises there) followed by India (again, not surprising).

But the third highest ticket sales have apparently gone to the Americans, and that is just baffling. The slow, lazy pace of test cricket is the antithesis of what the astute American sports fan wants.

They want cheerleaders, boisterous PA announcements, merchandise on a biblical scale and low-grade lager. Cricket has attracted a younger crowd these days, but it’s a sport where the players still “stop for tea”.

Maybe it’s something to do with the ticketing?

The competition’s organisers are prepared to take legal action against secondary ticketing sites, with some tickets being sold at more than £12,000.

Tickets for the England v Australia game at Lord’s are being sold on a site called Viagogo for 104 times their face value of £115 – madness.

Viagogo released a statement saying: “Viagogo does not set ticket prices, sellers set their own prices, which may be above or below the original face value. Where demand is high and tickets are limited, prices increase.”

“Viagogo is a marketplace and doesn’t buy or sell tickets. Viagogo provides a platform for third party sellers to sell tickets to event goers.

“Event organisers sometimes make claims that they will deny entry to people who have purchased resold tickets. These types of entry restrictions are highly unfair and in our view, unenforceable and illegal.”

Stubhub is also getting in on the action, selling tickets well over their face value. Two gold tickets for the India v Pakistan match at Old Trafford on 16 June, originally priced at £150 per ticket, are being marketed at £3,280 each.

They again have denied that they set the price.

This, I fear, is what is driving American interest. When something is over-inflated in value, its appeal goes up too. Are American visitors being conned? Maybe, but if it turns out they like a combination of fusty old men in blue blazers and sun hats hushing at the Barmy Army and arguments about scones, they’ll be grand.

I suspect, however, it’s more to do with the fact that, as was reported at the UKinbound annual convention, there has been a surge in US visitors to the UK as they love our period drama and ye olde tweeness. I can’t think of anything more quintessentially English than jolly good game of cricket.