‘England should return for Test series to show solidarity’

November 28th, 2008 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 28 (IANS) While English cricketers are reluctant to return for the Test series in India, the media feels players should go ahead with the tour as a mark of respect to the dead and wounded in the Mumbai terror strikes.Rather than flying back home, England cricketers should go and spend some time in Dubai or Singapore and then travel back to India for the Test series, the Guardian reports.

“Five days in Colombo would surely have sufficed, or Dubai or Singapore. Once the players are home, it will take massive willpower to drag them on to a plane to India once more. If the series does take place, it demonstrates solidarity with the Indian people, who, if they see it this way, one hopes would respond by turning up to the games,” eminent columnist and former England cricketer Mike Selvey was quoted as saying in The Guardian.

Cricket writer Patrick Kidd of The Times also felt that tour must continue fairly and promptly though it is understandable for the players to come back home in such a hostile situation.

“I feel that the tour must continue fairly promptly. England owe it to India and their fans to demonstrate that life must go on after such senseless carnage. The cliche about not letting the terrorists win can sound trite, but it is a valid one,” Kidd wrote.

“England may seek sanctuary back in Europe, but others don’t have that option. Even though reports suggested that the terrorists were seeking British and Americans, the bulk of those who died or were wounded were Indians. England should stay and compete as a mark of respect to them,” he added.

England have already cut short the seven-match ODI series and are scheduled to fly back home Saturday morning.

To save the two-match Test series, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to shift the final Test out of Mumbai to Chennai. The match will be played Dec 19-23.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has assured the BCCI that the team would return for the Test series starting in Ahmedabad Dec 11.

Both Selvey and Kidd agreed that the protection of the England players is paramount to the ECB.

“The England players have every right to be concerned about their safety, notwithstanding that they were a thousand miles away from Mumbai at the time of the attacks on hotels, restaurants, train stations and other buildings,” said Selvey.

“The distance argues against any suggestion that they might have been targets, yet the very indiscriminate nature of the attacks, on a day apparently with no special significance, means in reality only that their number had not come up in life’s lottery. A week or so earlier and they would have been in the Taj Mahal hotel. A day later and it would have been the Middlesex team standing at the check-in desk. No allowance can be made for randomness,” he added.

The second Test match between India and England scheduled Dec 19-23 in Mumbai has been shifted to Chennai after terror strikes in the city.

England have already cut short the seven-match ODI series and are scheduled to fly back home Saturday morning. Kidd compared the terrorist strikes in Mumbai with other incidents and when cricket was used as a balm.

“I can think of several parallels with this incident. In 1984, riots spread across India after the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Thousands were killed, particularly Sikhs. England wanted to go home, especially after the murder of the British Deputy High Commissioner, with whom they had dined, but it was cricket that brought the restoration of peace,” Kidd said.

“The Indian government used posters of the heroes who had won the World Cup in England the previous year, men such as Kapil Dev and Maninder Singh, with the slogan ‘Khelenge saath, jiyenge saath’ or ‘Will play together, live together’. England, who went to Sri Lanka for two weeks after the murder of Gandhi to allow things to calm down, returned and won the series 2-1, but the fact that they had played and that Indian cricketers had gone about their business brought comfort to their fans,” he said.

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