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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    September 23, 2003

    Politics of Cricket

    Ho hum. YAPTC happened this week. YAPTC stands for Yet Another Pakistan Tour Cancellation. Pakistan has been crying itself hoarse over the last year or so about how it is a very safe place to play cricket, barring bombings in cities where matches are scheduled. Over the last year or so, New Zealand took the first flight out after a bomb blast near their hotel, Australia and West Indies opted to play Pakistan in the sweltering heat of Sharjah rather than be targetted by possible Al-Qaeda bombers in Pakistan while Sri Lanka cancelled the series. That leaves us with England and India amongst the major Test playing nations. England aren't due to play in Pakistan until 2005. Assuming Pakistan still plays cricket then [you never know, what if Pervez is overthrown and the Taliban has a resurgence and takes over Pakistan?], it'd be interesting to see if England do make the trip. I'm sure as a willing ally in the war against terrorism, it'll be difficult to categorize Pakistan as a place Beefy preferred to send his mother-in-law to. And then there was one.

    India's refusal to tour Pakistan because of political considerations and terrorism in J & K absolutely baffles me. It allows Pakistan to accuse India of mixing sports with politics. The ICC adopts a holier than thou attitude and says the same thing, completely missing the fact that England's boycott of its World Cup game in Zimbabwe was more political than security related. India's official stance against playing in Pakistan should be that it cannot risk sending its players and citizens to a place where there is a VERY big threat perception. As far as I can remember, none of Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka or West Indies have ever gone to war against Pakistan. India has. Four times. That doesn't include a 14 year proxy conflict in J & K and a 10 year proxy conflict in Punjab, which has thankfully ended.

    In theory, sports and politics shouldn't mix. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, they do end up in one garbage heap. Look at the officials in the cricket boards/associations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. You invariably find ministers or MPs being heads of cricket associations, if not holding positions in the cricket board per se. You also have sportsmen becoming politicians. These are the same people who talk of how sports and politics are not to be mixed up. History is replete with instances of sports and politics mixing up, putting just about everyone involved in a quagmire. Here's a chronology I could come up with.

  • Hitler uses the 1936 Berlin Olympics as propaganda for the Nazi party and the concept of Aryan supremacy. Hitler is quoted by the leader of the youth wing of the Nazi party [I think] as saying ""The Americans should be ashamed of themselves, letting Negroes win their medals for them. I shall not shake hands with this Negro. Do you really think that I will allow myself to be photographed shaking hands with a Negro ?"
  • England leave Basil D'Oliviera out of the touring party to South Africa. Tom Cartwright pulls out at the last minute and "Dolly" is included in the side. South Africa refuses to allow Basil D'Oliviera as part of the side. The Imperial Cricket Council expells South Africa for 22 years.
  • Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics being massacred.
  • USA boycotts Moscow Olympics.
  • USSR boycotts LA Olympics.
  • Pakistan calls off cricket tour to India in 1991 after Shiv Sena militants dig up pitches. Subsequent attempts to have the tour in 1993 and 1994 were also scuppered on 'security' grounds.

    I'm fairly sure there're more instances, particularly when it involves the USA, USSR, UK, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. Readers are welcome to contribute more instances.

    Players have also been targetted in the past. The hockey team which went to Pakistan in 1990 for the World Cup was heckled all the way through their tour. During their game against Holland, slippers were thrown along with generous doses of abuse. Even though the Dutch and the referee offered to abandon the game, the Indian team opted to play on and lost. It ended up with the fairplay trophy. As an aside, isnt this trophy given nowadays? At least in the 1990s we used to bring home this particular trophy regularly, in various sports, especially hockey. Even though the current team is good, we're just far too inconsistent and have a tendency to doze off in the last 10 minutes. The other thing we're consistently doing is beat Pakistan in the league game and lose to them in the medal playoffs, in the final few minutes. Anyway, onto the players. Srikkanth was nearly attacked by a chap who managed to escape the security during the 1989 tour.

    With Ganguly and Tendulkar being targetted by the Lashkar-e-toiba for kidnap, who is to say they wouldn't strike in "home" territory? I know there're sceptics among you who say. 'Ganguly le le, Kashmir de de' or even rejoice at the fact that the allegedly non-playing captain's absence finally offers scope for Yuvraj/Kaif to play or India playing an extra bowler. Thats rather frivolous.

    The point is that we should not tour Pakistan. Purely for security reasons. Nothing else.

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