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The England cricket tour of India should not be interrupted

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.

7 comments to The England cricket tour of India should not be interrupted

  • Some of the star players in the Australian Rugby League team wanted the team to pull out of their English tour in 2001.

    The initial response of the Australian Rugby League was to cancel the tour. This decision misjudged the public mood totally, and was criticised so heavily that the cancellation was cancelled and the tour went ahead.

    As an aside, tours of England by the Australian Rugby League team are a very big deal in Sydney and Brisbane, as rugby league (or “football” as it is known locally) is the principal winter sport in that part of Australia.

  • Liberty

    Yes indeed; I hope they go on with those matches. Though I can’t help thinking that terrorists everywhere have already been so emboldened by Obama’s victory that they’re hardly going to notice something like this.

    *sulks*

  • I must confess I just cancelled plans for a family holiday in India in January. Had it been just me I would have gone(*), and the places we would have been spending time are far aware from any major centres and likely targets. But the wishes of a mother with a small child are not to be challenged in these matters.

    This weekend, then, I will be checking the state of our wintersports gear and looking for self-catering accommodation just round the corner in the Austrian Alps.

    (*) Despite the fact that, the last time I was on a private trip to India, I looked with interest at the papers in the mornings when they had maps with circles showing the range of Pakistani bombers and rockets, and was glad I was outside them. That was the spring of 2002.

  • Alex

    “…if the authorities and people of India are willing to put up with all that, then so should our cricketers be..”

    Completely wrong, sorry. The terrorists were specifically seeking British passport holders. The Indian dead were merely in the way and, as is the way of Muslim terrorists, they didn’t care a hoot. The English cricket team is about a perfect a target as it gets for these people.

    The ECB owes the BCCI, which has behaved appallingly over the past year or two, less than nothing. In a horrific way, this terrible event might reign in the BCCI’s bullying.

    As for the Indian people, the other argument is that laughing in the face of their tragedy and continuing to play cricket is an offensive disregard for the fact that police and army personel have better thing to do.

    England’s withdrawal from India is not a victory for the terrorists. They got that when they murdered 200 people. You cannot risk the lives of a few young sportsmen simply to make some kind of shallow “point”.

    I feel terrible for the residents of Bombay. I’m sure the presence, or not, of Kevin Pietersen is not exactly high on their concerns right now.

  • Paul Marks

    About 2000 Indians have been killed by terrorists in the last few years – one (1) British person has so far been announced as has having been killed in the recent attack.

    To carry in definance of terrorists attacks is not a “shallow point” Alex. And giving in to terrorists IS to give a victory to terrorists. Just as voting out the Spanish government after the Madrid attacks gave a victory to terrorists.

    “You have never taken risks yourself Mr Marks”.

    Well I have guarded places in the City that were blown up (although I was not on shift at the time) and then went and guarded what was left.

    But then I was paid – several Pounds a hour in fact.

  • Midwesterner

    Paul,

    - one (1) British person has so far been announced as has having been killed in the recent attack.

    I assume you mean aside from the “as many as seven” that participated in it.

    If this is true then I sincerely hope many political careers in the UK are ended by the repercussions.

  • Nick

    I seem to remember the Australian cricket team crying-off from fixtures in Sri Lanka during the 1996 World Cup, citing security fears.

    Predictably, they met Sri Lanka in the final and were well-beaten.