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Former Tory party MP hails Monty's rise

Written by: Staff

London, Aug 9 (UNI) Monty mania is sweeping Britain and the latest to be impressed with the left-arm spinner's performance in the on-going Test series against Pakistan is a former Tory party MP, who once held the view that ''a large proportion of Britain's Asian population fails to pass the cricket test''.

Lord Tebbit, an ex-MP from Chingford, watched the second Test, in which Monty spun England to victory on the final day, from his home.

''What cheered me enormously was not only that Monty was playing so well for England, but the attitude of the crowd towards him. I was cheering both for him and for (Sajid) Mahmood,'' the former Tory party chairman said.

Tebbit had sparked a storm 16 years ago when he said, ''a large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It's an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?'' He asserted that his views had not changed much despite witnessing the new face of English cricket, arguing that there were still some Muslims who were ''a very long way'' from embracing British values.

However, he was lavish in his praise for Monty, the first Sikh to play for the national side, and Sajid Mahmood, whose parents emigrated from Pakistan in the 1970s.

Sajid and Monty took seven wickets between them at Headingley to carve out a comfortable England victory after the latter had bowled an equally impressive match-winning spell in the first Test.

The left-arm spinner, nicknamed The Montster, has become a cult figure and spectators don black beards and patkas to emulate their unlikely hero. But divided loyalties surfaced when Mahmood, a Muslim born in Bolton, was bowling.

The pacer said some spectators taunted him, calling him a ''traitor'' for betraying his roots but added that the barracking had spurred him on to produce his best Test figures of four for 22 to help England dismiss Pakistan for 155 in their second innings.

''They gave me a lot of chat down there on the boundary and then I got that wicket and did that to see what they had to say then.

Every time I went down to that corner there was a couple clapping, there were a few hurling abuse so I didn't know what to do,'' Sajid revealed after the match.


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