Will India lose cricket to terror

Updated: Nov 30 2008, 05:39am hrs
I write this sitting in Adelaide in a state of stunned disbelief. Just as millions of Indians are still trying to come to terms with the events of the last 45 hours, I am too having just delivered a keynote at a conference, which, by sheer coincidence, was titled Power, Pride, Prejudice and Race in Cricket. For most of the first day at the conference, the day before the terror strikes in Indias financial capital, we discussed whether cricketers and cricket teams should stop touring Pakistan for fears of terror strikes and whether Sri Lanka, the other Asian powerhouse, has been unfairly discriminated against by the Western nations over the last decade.

The common consensus among most participants was that there were varying standards in international cricket when it came to India and Pakistan. India, given its financial clout, can certainly dictate terms to the West. So much so that teams like Australia and England agreed to tour the country without much murmur despite a series of terror attacks in July and August.

Mumbai, however, has changed all that. The ongoing English tour has now been cancelled, the Champions League postponed indefinitely and the forthcoming Test matches against England also in doubt. The terrorists have succeeded. While trying to create panic across scores of Indians, they have also successfully robbed Indians of their favourite national passion, cricket. While there is some logic in these cancellations, one cant help question if the same actions would have been taken had the strikes occurred in London or elsewhere. The Ashes series in England in July-August 2005 went on despite the London blasts on July 7.

In fact, the two countries played a Test match in London just days within the blast. Such actions by sportspeople, whether we agree or not, helps restore normalcy. It helps strengthen our resilience and our determination. It is a serious contribution to our fight against terror, which, in essence, tries to disrupt the very essence of our normal life.

If Indians can survive in Mumbai and across the country in the days ahead, so can the English or the Australians. We and our government will do everything possible to ensure security is at its best and ultimately this whole terror issue is not an Indian thing at all. It could have happened in the UK or Australia and is a global issue that should bring the global sports fraternity together. It is time to realise that such disgusting and dastardly actions are only aimed to hurt us where it hurts the mostdisrupt normal life and instill fear. Cancellation of sports tours does exactly that. Such actions create a situation of panic, reminds us day in and day out that we are living in an abnormal situation where things can go wrong anytime.

If Indias riches are attractive for cricketers from across the world, it will certainly be a tad selfish to walk away when the country is in crisis. Rather, this is the time to show the sense of camaraderie, cooperation and understanding that we boast of in times of normalcy. Such actions will endear cricketers from England and Australia for masses of Indians and ensure that during future tours their status as role models and brand ambassadors are accorded proper recognition.

Leaving the country and abandoning a tour is no solution. One certainly understands a temporary abandonment but a return at the earliest is the least cricket fraternities from across the world can do to combat terror.

Heres hoping the two Test series see a resumption of cricketing ties in a couple of weeks time.

The writer is a cricket historian