If you want to hear that most quintessential of English race conundrums, then look no further than Norman Tebbit’s ‘cricket test’, A member of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Government, Tebbit was known for his disarmingly blunt manner and a tendency to bash disloyal heads together on behalf of his boss. There was a sense that immigrants in the UK – the Caribbeans, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis but not, curiously, the South Africans and Australians – weren’t patriotic enough in their fervour for the England cricket team, preferring instead to support the national team of their birth country or that of their parents or grandparents. So Tebbit came up with a test – only those who supported England could be considered appropriately integrated, the rest were just chancers and scoundrels here to take – deep in the throes of it’s post war imperial decline – advantage of modern, rainy Britain and all its dreary delights.
Of course, my Jamaican family took great delight in a West Indian team that utterly terrorized England for the first nine or ten years of my life, before falling into steep decline just as my grand parents’ generation entered their latter years. I’m more fluid, cherishing those sweat and whiskey scented years in Grandma’s roaring, heaving front room – Jesus looking down from the mantle piece as Saint Viv smashed the ball around on the TV, but feeling in my 20s the pull of England as they ascended those heights the West Indies had so drastically fallen from. Mixed race Michael. English and Jamaican. I’ve proudly supported both. Do I get a pass?