It been over a year since the historic India vs Pakistan league match at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 took place at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester, England.
I had the good fortune of watching the match live from the Silver Lounge of the stadium while accompanying a small business delegation from the travel-trade in India. Our arrival was a day before the match in a city that seemed to have been taken over by South Asian cricket fans. All the hotels were packed to full capacity & booked weeks, if not months in advance.
Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester; Image credit - Shuja Mehdi
On match-day, I was privy to an awe-inspiring sight outside our hotel– a huge gathering of Team India fans who call themselves ‘Bharat Army’. What an amalgamation of cricket enthusiasts from around the world coming together to support India on its overseas tours, no matter where.
The UK is where you see legions of fans from South Asia root for their respective teams in the most passionate yet respectful way. There is banter but there is also appreciation & respect for the other side. I had only heard about this until I saw it with my own eyes!
This part of England was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, when cities like Manchester led the world with mechanisation and a move to industry. Today Manchester is more famous for its football clubs, nightlife & shopping. Manchester is known as the Gateway to the North because of its large airport that connects most of the UK & receives international flights from across the world. Although it has no direct flight to India yet, connections on Emirates, Etihad, Oman Air & Qatar Airways are excellent from most Indian cities.
After watching the match & what turned out to be an easy win for Team India, our group moved onto the Lake District.
Windermere Jetty, Lake District; Image credit - Shuja Mehdi
Outside of the cities, you will find some of England’s most alluring countryside. The Lake District National Park has long been a magnet for artists and poets thanks to its majestic mountains and tranquil lakes.
A place of superlatives, the Lake District National Park is the largest in the UK and boasts England’s highest mountain – Scafell Pike – and its largest lake – Lake Windermere. The Lake District is in Cumbria, North West England. It is around 3.5 hours away from London by train and 1.5 hours from Manchester International airport.
Storrs Hall, Windermere, Lake District; Image credit - Shuja Mehdi
The green fields of Lake District have always made me wonder what it would be like to have a game of cricket and that is exactly what we did on our trip. We met with a team of Under 16 boys from a local school who were kind enough to play a couple of matches with us….people well over twice their age, but it was more than a fair contest, as we learnt the hard way.
There was so much that we experienced during those 3 days that even more than a year later it feels like yesterday. I guess that’s the kind of impression you will walk away with once you take a trip to the North of England – the best of sport, nightlife, shopping, food & countryside, just a couple of hours from London.
Blog contributed by Mr. Shuja Mehdi, B2B Manager, VisitBritain India.