Alex Massie

Beckham and Azharuddin...

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Just recovering from a 21 hour Istanbul-Washington trip (thanks American Airlines), so still catching up with correspondence and the like.

Still, here's a piece I wrote for The New Republic defying the (emerging) conventional wisdom - at least amongst some soccer snobs - that Beckham's arrival is the beginning of the end for US soccer.

Of course, it's also the case that, psychologically, some American soccer fans fear what might happen to their game if it really takes off (I argue that it has already taken off). Can soccer survive American interest? And, just as pressingly, can soccer fans, many of whom are proud to have the sophisitication and the international outlook to appreciate the beautiful game, survive the blow to their sense of exclusivity if the American barbarians invade and want a piece of the turf themselves?

Also, here's my contribution to Norm's splendid series on cricket memories. Mine recalls a gorgeous afternoon in 1990 when Mohammad Azharuddin flayed the England attack, producing an innings of scintillating brilliance at Lords. Azharuddin had begun his test career with centuries against England in his first three tests and years later, in 1997, he would dismantle the South Africans at Cape Town with another thrilling century in a blistering partnership with Sachin Tendulkar that was breathtakngly destructive. But this was his finest hour in England, even if it was in a losing cause.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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