As cricket returns to England, no songs from the Barmy Army

The Barmy Army won’t be around to back England when it walks out into the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday for the first Test against West Indies.

Barmy Army has been an integral part of England’s cricket culture since 1994-95.   -  Getty Images

Hey, hey we’re the Barmies

All colour, excitement and sound

So you’d all better be ready

We’ve come to take over your ground…

Songs from the Barmy Army would be missing when England cricketers walk into the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday for the first Test against the West Indies. There won’t be any cheers from the stands, the trumpets won’t blow. Every time England would score a run or take a wicket, it would all be cold, calm and quiet. The fun, the frolic, the music - they’ll all be missing.

Cricket will return to the country after almost four months, albeit in empty stands. Barmy Army - England’s largest fan group - too, won’t be around to ‘back the boys’ during the three-match Test series.

There were efforts to have the play the Barmy Army anthems in Public Address system so that England cricketers do feel at home. But that, too, isn’t happening. However, the ECB has agreed to put up a Barmy Army flag at the Ageas Bowl.

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Chris Millard, the managing director of Barmy Army, is looking at the positives. “You got to appreciate that the ECB has made sure that we have actually got some cricket. There will be cricket on and we all will have something to watch. We are not going to be at the stadium, which is a real shame but there will be cricket around and it will at least give the nation something to cheer [about]. It will lift the mood,” Millard told Sportstar.

‘Something for all fans’

The 33,000-plus Army members, however, will be watching England in action on television or through live stream and Barmy Army plans to make that an interesting experience. “We are going to live stream on our social media channels. The Jerusalem will be played on the match days. We would try and ensure that people can watch the game from home and also get the Barmy Army atmosphere,” Millard said. “We will go live on social media and there will be something for all the fans…”

A few weeks ago, England captain Joe Root stated that “a few Barmy Army chants a couple of times a session would be nice…”, following which the Barmy Army had requested the ECB to use the PA system at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton to play its famous anthems.

England's Jofra Archer at practice at the Ageas Bowl on Monday. - AP


But that’s not going to happen, at least for now.

“That certainly won’t be possible as it would take too long to sort out to make sure that we are ready to rock and roll...There won’t be anything played out on speaker system,” Millard said, hoping that it may be allowed for the second or the third Test.

However, leading up to the series, the Barmy Army plans to do quite a few exciting things such as social media campaigns and podcast. “We will be taking to social media to play our trumpets, so that people can have some entertainment sitting at home. We will also be looking to do some fun live podcast with cricket celebrities. There would be comments on the game and they will have a chat,” Millard said.

An eye on the Ashes

While the fans are looking forward to the season, Millard admits that with the coronavirus pandemic, the business has taken a hit. But he is confident that things would turnaround by the next couple of years. “We have a small business to operate and it will have a huge impact on the running cost of the business. It’s like any business in the industry. But we have to make sure that we are back in two years time,” Millard said.

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“The big tour for the Barmy Army is always the Ashes tour and that’s still two years away and that’s something we have to work towards.”

Millard is also pinning hopes on next year’s away series against India. “If we lose the India tour, then that will be a big loss as well. Away series in India is normally a successful one for Barmy Army,” he said, hoping that things would slowly fall in place.

Since the 1994-1995 Ashes series, the Barmy Army has become an integral part of England’s cricket culture. Over the decades, wherever England has travelled, the Army members have made it a point to be around. Even recently, some of their members were stranded in Sri Lanka after the Test series was called off due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But all that couldn’t dampen the spirit.

As another cricketing summer beckons, it’s the love for the team that keeps it going.

We’re just trying to be friendly

Come and watch us sing and play

We’re the Mighty England

And we’ve got plenty to say…” 

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