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LAWRENCE BOOTH: Cricket paid a perfect tribute to the Queen at the Oval ahead of England’s third Test against South Africa… and showed football how they could have done it
- Cricket paid the perfect tribute to the Queen at the Oval last weekend
- The minute of silence was handled perfectly by the 25,000 attendees
- It became the sport synonymous with the first public rendition of God Save the King
- Cricket showed football how it can be done – after the latter was cancelled
At 10:54 a.m. on Saturday morning, the Oval felt like the quietest place in London.
Quite an achievement, given that there were about 25,000 in attendance.
And yet there they were, the silence personified, the peace broken only by the clatter of machines beyond the ground and a passing plane above.
Cricket paid a perfect tribute to the Queen during England’s third Test against South Africa at the Oval
So the minute of silence was just that. It wasn’t a minute of applause that has come into fashion, as if onlookers can’t be trusted to hold schtum for 60 seconds, or at least don’t consider silence to be sufficiently demonstrative.
It was real pinprick stuff, the ultimate sign of respect in a society where he or she who yells the loudest often yells last. Like the Queen herself, it was a legacy. This was a reaction in her image – unobtrusive, no-nonsense, understated. And that was of course the intention.
While football made an early appeal to sporting decency, cricket handled things perfectly: the second day of the third test against South Africa was canceled and the third day got things going (after a washout of the first day).
You could have heard a pin drop in the minute of silence – the ultimate sign of respect in a society where he or she who shouts loudest often shouts last
Day three of the test saw one of the first public renditions of God Save the King
The Queen never cared about cricket, despite all her visits to Lord’s. Horses were her thing. But it’s hard to believe she would have been anything but deeply moved, both by what didn’t happen at the Oval on Friday and what happened on Saturday—a double doff of the cap that was neither wacky nor melodramatic, and appeared to capture the bulk of the public vote.
Obviously, the continuation of the game was what the ECB’s accountants wanted: cancellation might have cost £4 million, as there’s no insurance against the monarch’s death. But it probably also coincided with the Queen’s wishes. In most respects she was deliberately unknowable; in this case we could have a good estimate.
And so it happened that as football turned everything down, depriving millions of fans of enlightenment and costing thousands their train and hotel costs, cricket became the sport synonymous with one of the first public renditions of God Save the King – a symbolic shift in life. of the nation, regardless of your views on patriotism and pageantry.
Cricket showed football how it could be done over the weekend – after final games saw canceled following Queen’s death
It was impeccably sung by Laura Wright and instinctively supported by the audience.
Wright later told the BBC that she had to relearn the anthem, tear it down and put it back together. It sounded a curious observation. After all, what more needed to be done than to turn ‘Queen’ into ‘King’ and ‘her’ into ‘him’?
But by explaining it as a matter of retraining muscle memory, Wright spoke to many: So small, so big its significance. The singing itself was a way of looking back and moving forward. Anyone at the Oval – monarchist or republican – must have felt privileged to be part of one of the early drafts of the new era.
Then came the applause, sincere and cathartic.
And when the cricket started on Saturday it was hard to find anyone who thought it was disrespectful.