Sunday, November 30, 2008

England's dilemma by Mouth of the Mersey

Should England's cricketers board a flight to India and play two the Test matches scheduled for December? They are now with their families and friends in England and it's a fair bet that few wives and parents will be urging them to return, but you can't always get what you want.

England's security adviser is assessing the position now and his report will be keenly awaited by players and administrators. I hope he will be free of any influences seeking a pragmatic and hence negative report, which would be convenient for his employers and the players with whom he must work in the future.

If he assesses the security risk as acceptable, what should the England players do? I suggest that they consider the the following issues.

When London Transport came under attack in July 2005, Londoners, including tube and bus drivers, did not refuse to go to work, indeed made a point of carrying on business as usual. Cricket, a sport that has always been played in dangerous places, needs its leading lights to show that same fortitude - there is no future for the game and, by extension, for the players (or rather the players that will follow them) if matches are only played in "safe" locations.

The handsome central contracts agreed by many of the England party were concluded in full knowledge of an itinerary which included visits to places recently hit by terrorist attacks - since India's cities have been targets of some time. Does the Mumbai outrage make a terrorist attack any more likely in Chennai come mid-December? Those central contracts also allow the families back home to buy their way out of other risks, a point made by KP, the England captain in his famous remark about who was going to pay for his kids' school fees.

Finally, the cricketers might consider that risk is a part of life. More people will be killed on Britain's roads in the days the team are scheduled to be in India than were killed in the Mumbai outrage, but that doesn't stop them driving their cars. They may also reflect on the fact that many of the people paying for their central contracts through Sky subscriptions will work in dangerous places, from building sites to rescue services through to armed forces in theatres such as Afghanistan.

I don't deny that this is a difficult few days for KP and his men, but I hope that they will see that the goodwill they will engender from cricket fans everywhere, and especially among the teeming millions on the sub-continent, makes fulfilling their fixtures worth it. I also hope that the captain and senior players will see the bigger picture I have outlined above and show the greatest quality required for success on the sporting field on anywhere else - leadership.


philwest said...

Trying to argue against this is stupid, but then there are a lot of stupid people out there!
The fact that 75% of the victims were Indians is a point that hasn't been fully realised by 95% of the media.
Of course they should play - we owe that much respect to the people who died so tragically.
Nice piece.

Allout said...

Nice peice Mouth.

I think it might be worth making the point that in this particular instance wealthy Brits seem to have been specifically targeted which would seem to put the cricket team far more clearly on the list of potential targets than if it was a general attack on an Indian building.

I don't believe that this pushes the case over tipping point but does make it less clear-cut than it otherwise would have been.

zeph said...

Quite right, Allout, that is the element that distinguishes this situation from the usual one where there may be unrest in a country but only a slim chance of UK cricket players being caught up in it.

When players watch survivors on TV talking about terrorists demanding to know who had a UK or US passport, that has to affect their decision making.

Having said that, I think a lot is being assumed from a few remarks made by players when they were still shocked by the events in Mumbai. My guess is they'll all go back and play the Tests (and get thrashed)

Anonymous said...

Nice piece, Mouth, and I agree with you 100%.


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