I agree with all those who are now saying that the England cricket tour of India should not be interrupted, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. My understanding of terrorism is that what makes it such a headache to defend against, given that in India people generally are not allowed to carry guns (correct?), is not knowing when or where they might strike. But if you have a number of set-piece, high profile events to defend, with definite times and places attached to them, you can. It will be cumbersome and tiresome, and expensive, with lots more frisking of people who look like they might be terrorists, and lots more frisking of people who do not look at all like terrorists, both to avoid upsetting people who look like terrorists and to make sure that any terrorist plan deliberately not to look like a terrorist is also guarded against. But if the authorities and people of India are willing to put up with all that, then so should our cricketers be.
I am even opposed to the final two one-dayers being cancelled, although I daresay the Indian authorities would not have had the time to make their dispositions, given that the one-dayers would have been very soon. But the test matches should definitely go ahead, including and especially the second one, which they have already, regrettably, moved from Mumbai to Chennai. I guess the Mumbai police have enough on their hands already, or think they have.
Playing those two one-dayers would have changed nothing in a cricketing way. 5-0 to India would almost certainly have become 7-0 to India, but playing those games, and the Mumbai test in Mumbai, would have made another and bigger point. I daresay that, because of their disappointing cricket, England’s cricketers are not now very highly regarded in India. This would be a chance to get back into India’s good books. Risky? Maybe, a little. But also, given the money now disposed of by India’s cricket fans and by Indians generally, to make this small stand against terrorism might also been, you know, rather lucrative. But headlines like Pietersen wants security assurances don’t strike the right note at all. This guy had a great chance to make a much more positive statement than that, but he muffed it.
As James Forsyth put it yesterday:
Imagine how we would have felt if after the 7/7 bombings the Australian cricket team had headed to Heathrow.
And commenter CG added:
Some of the star players in the Australian Rugby League team wanted the team to pull out of their English tour in 2001. When they were told that they would be replaced by more willing players, and may not get their places back, they decided to come after all.
I know, I know. The reckless courage of the non-combatant. But I didn’t stop using London’s buses and underground trains in the immediate aftermath of 7/7, still less run away to the country.