In conversation: British Deputy High Commissioner in Odisha talks cricket and more

Bhubaneswar: Bruce Bucknell, the Deputy High Commissioner of UK visited Odisha last week to promote the ongoing Cricket World Cup 2019 in England. He spoke at length to Odisha Sun Times, about cricket and UK initiatives in Odisha.

Excerpts of the interview:

Celebrating the living bridge of cricket between India and the UK:

The living bridge implies the ‘people’ connection between India and Britain. There is a large Indian diaspora living in Britain. Almost one and a half million people of Indian origin constitute a very successful and diverse community there. We have Odias, as well. I very well know an Odia society based in Manchester. Indians are a very important element of British life. They have relatives living here in India and some of them also support the Indian cricket team. This diaspora of people with a vibrant culture and ideas is the living bridge.

Hosting the ICC World Cup 2019:

We would like to think that this year’s tournament will be the best. It will be probably the most viewed World Cup on television with almost 1.3 billion Indians cheering for your team. We are expecting almost 80,000 Indian tourists in Britain for the World Cup, this year. Moreover, one of the major advantages of hosting such as event will boost sports in the country.

We have done a lot of promotion online and also organised events like Festival of Cricket in India. It is a good moment for Indian tourists to visit England, especially when you have the chance to watch cricket.

Expectations from English team

Expectations may be dashed, because even though we beat South Africa in the first match, we also lost to Pakistan in the next. It is going to be a tough competition. If you lose two matches, you begin worrying about your net run rate. So England may be under a little bit of pressure. But playing in England, of course we should have an advantage because of home grounds and home conditions. We performed badly in the 2015 World Cup but we have had a good four years. This team has worked really hard to get to number one position in the ICC ODI rankings. Our women have won four world cups in cricket, but our men have not won any! They should get through to the semi-finals.

India as a contender for World Cup 2019-06-12

The World Cup as a tournament is different. We have seen quite a variety of scores and conditions. The Indian team is strong. It is a fantastic, good team. You have the no.1 ODI bowler Jasprit Bumrah and good spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal. Before the start of the series, England was a favourite and India was close behind. It would be a delight if we had an India-England final on July 14.

India-UK collaborations in the field of education in Odisha

The Brirish Council signed an MoU with the Odisha government last year to aid in improving the English language teaching in schools. It is a really important skill. However, even though this part of the country is a major producer of fantastic human talent, they move to other parts of the country for work. Learning the English language has greater benefit.

Scholarship opportunities and student visa to UK from India

The British Council in India runs a range of programmes that you can find on their website. One example is that of Chevening programme that aims at the future leadership and we give about 45 scholarships. This year, there is an Odia woman in Oxford University doing a medical course. We are also coming up with a scheme where one can do a Master’s in Britain if you have two years of work experience in India. We are also extending the time duration of stay for student visas, so that they can stay and look for work after the completion of their course. Earlier, it was four months, but now we are making it six for all graduates of universities like Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics, Imperial College London for Engineering, etc. We are constantly reviewing student visas and immigration rules, which may benefit India, due to Brexit.

Odisha visit

I have visited Odisha many times. I have tried the dalma and chhenapoda. My personal cook in Kolkata is a resident of Odisha. I would love to watch the Ratha Jatra in Puri.

Watch the full interview here.

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