Observations from The Oval

The Oval cricket ground in the south London suburb of Kennington hosted an England versus Australia Test as far back as 1880, which makes it the oldest Test venue in England.

Its dignified red brick and sandstone pavilion, now rather camouflaged by hoardings of the stadium’s sponsor, KIA Motors, was constructed between 1895 and 1897.

Atop the five-storey structure are presently three flagpoles; the middle one taller than the others. On one side flutters the Indian tricolour; on the other the English St George’s cross. In the centre is the British Union Jack.

While the present Test is obviously between England and India, the flags representing them are regional and national, respectively. The Indian standard is by protocol on a par with the British ensign. Thus, for it to fly at a lower height than its United Kingdom counterpart is diplomatically and politically incorrect.

The matter, though, escapes the Indian supporters who occupy a section of the stands. The Indian High Commission in London doesn’t seem to have lodged a protest either.

(Senior cricket writer Ashis Ray is a broadcaster and author of the book ‘Cricket World Cup: The Indian Challenge’)