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    December 01, 2008

    England's test tour of India - should it go ahead or not?

    Perhaps waiting for a few days after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai has helped me develop a better & clearer understanding of the implications, and the possible responses.

    Soon after the attacks, the Twenty20 Champions League was cancelled. Then the BCCI announced that the remaining two one-dayers of the one-day series were off. As an aside, it is interesting though that had India won the series 7-0, it would have been the first ever time that a bilateral ODI series had that kind of result.

    Interestingly, and perhaps disturbingly, the BCCI's press release on its website says that the last 2 ODIs have been postponed. Even more worrying is the fact that N Srinivasan, the treasurer said that the cancellation (or postponement?) of the 2 ODIs was done on the ECB's behalf. Why should the BCCI have waited until the ECB requested for it? Wasn't it bleedin' (pardon the insensitive pun) obvious that there was no way the ODI series would pan out as scheduled?

    The second test, scheduled for the Brabourne Stadium at Mumbai, was moved to Chennai on the ECB's insistence for holding the game in a south Indian state.

    Why wasn't Eden Gardens considered when it had last hosted a test a year ago? To what extent can the ECB dictate the choice of venues? I suppose the fact that among India's major cities, Chennai has not been impacted by terror attacks (so far, and touching wood as I type!) would have played a major role.

    The way things stand now, England would be foolish to commit to a return in time for the tests, especially considering the first test is at Ahmedabad, where 17 were killed in July 2008. So, I don't really expect them to return for the test series unless the security folks give the venues a clean chit.

    Should sport be used as a mechanism to heal wounds and ensure that civilians defeat the evil designs of terrorists? Is it the sportsman's duty to help with the process of healing, by entertaining?

    Perhaps, to some extent. But the ones that play the sport are humans too. When the first reports of South Africa's players expressing a preference to go home came in, Ganesh wrote
    The South African players, especially, seem to be afraid to stay in the island anymore and want to get back home which is completely understandable. We should realize that they are also humans and have their own families.
    When South Africa did pack up and leave, I wrote
    But human lives are far more important, more important than cricket. All this talk on the lines of "Blasts and terrorism are part of daily life. We ought not to be cowed down. The terrorists should not win. They won't target cricketers anyway" is just plain bull excreta. Even if blasts and terrorism are an everyday event, that does not mean cricketers, and indeed spectators, ought to invite trouble by playing games. The terrorists may not target cricketers explicitly. What if they hit the security folks who had the responsibility of guarding the cricketers? What if their aim missed and hit the cricket players' bus instead?
    If England's players have even an iota of doubt about their safety in India, they aren't going to do justice to their their family, profession, their employers and other loved ones. If the security agencies give a go-ahead, individual preferences and choices must be factored in.

    Also keep in mind the worries that India's players are likely to have. Sachin Tendulkar is apparently on the hit list of a few groups. The others are also likely to be extremely concerned for their safety. Playing international cricket now is probably the least of their priorities.

    Not everyone is the same. Some are far more likely to prefer the comfort zone of their family & home. In such a situation, there's nothing wrong with it. Finding a slot for the test series or the T20 Champions League in the short-term future is not a big deal at all. It's just a sport, seen in perspective. Lance Klusener, if he indeed say it in the South African dressing room after he and Allan Donald had memorably cocked up at Edgbaston in the 1999 World Cup semi-final, wasn't too far off the mark in his assessment of the outcome of that game.

    Vote in the poll.

    Update: BCCI have now issued a revised schedule with Ahmedabad also not hosting a England Test this series. Looks like it would be Mohali & Chennai for the 2 Tests, although England haven't confirmed participation yet. This is baffling news, since Mohali had hosted a Test very recently, against Australia. Can someone remind the BCCI that only Ganguly retired and not his city?

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 4:04 AM |
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    3 sledge(s):

    LAst heard, eden garden is going through renovation !

    By Blogger மணிகண்டன் (04-Dec-2008, 9:37:00 PM)  

    I'm not so sure about that. Eden Gardens has hosted two first-class matches this season. See

    By Blogger Jagadish (05-Dec-2008, 12:14:00 AM)  

    You are right jagadish. It could have been left out because of Dalmiya's fraction winning the election. Sad but true state of our administration. It would have been nice to have started the australian tour in Eden Gardens. When i saw that fixture, i was worried to see bangalore & Nagpur. but fortunately our team played good cricket to win the series.

    By Blogger மணிகண்டன் (05-Dec-2008, 7:32:00 PM)  

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