January 15, 2010 1:44:57 am
The Shiv Sena has such a rich history of digging up cricket pitches and isolating Mumbai from international cricket that you cannot shrug this off as the hollow rant of a party desperate for a cause. As long as there are attacks against our Indian brethren on Australian soil,threatened Sena chief Bal Thackeray in the partys journal Saamna,Australian cricketers would not be allowed to play in Maharashtra. Australian cricket officials reacted within a day,expressing concern about around 40 players in the forthcoming season of the Indian Premier League.
Thackerays party had,of course,been successful in enforcing a long blockade on Pakistani cricketers. It,in fact,was almost a given that a match involving Pakistan would not be scheduled in Mumbai.
The Senas workers even tried to target Delhis Kotla track before Pakistans 1999 tour of India,till its leadership was stared down politically. That is the catch. The Sena is in the business of wrecking the cricket calendar for very narrow political considerations. As a start,it would help if other political parties rebutted Thackerays sentiments; that it is an absurd justice thats premised on inflicting the kind of violence on others that is sought to be stopped against persons deemed to be ones own. And,at the least,the administration needs to make
a strong statement that such vandalism will not be permitted.
To have Mumbai off crickets map would be cruel. Cricket has always acknowledged the citys special place in the game. And most recently,barely a fortnight after 26/11,the English cricket team returned to India to complete a tour interrupted after the attack,with their captain making the point that life would go on. But like almost everyone else,sportspersons too these days are easily perturbed by the prospect of disruption and violence. This country cannot permit its territory to be off limits because of threats that are,in essence,racist.
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