March 5, 2011

Sidharth Monga at the 2011 World Cup

Fans' flowers can't mask the bigger picture

Sidharth Monga
The Mirpur crowd threw their '4' and '6' placards at the Bangladesh team after they had been bowled out for 58, Bangladesh v West Indies, Group B, World Cup 2011, Mirpur, March 4, 2011
The fans have apologised, but it can't make up for what was a security breach  © Getty Images
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As promised last night, hundreds of Bangladeshis gathered outside the team hotel in Dhaka on Saturday to apologise to the cricketers for the actions of some “fans” – for want of a better word. Stones were thrown at the team buses last night, there were reports of rioting in the Dhaka University area and of an attack on the house of Shakib Al Hasan’s parents.

This morning the other side of the Bangladesh cricket fan emerged, a side I still believe to be more representative of the average fan. I was not there to see it – I had an early-morning bus to Chittagong – but the reports are reassuring. People arrived there early in the morning with flowers, with placards apologising not only to the West Indies cricketers but the Bangladeshis too.

I never doubted this side of the Bangladeshis. Often at the end of rickshaw rides or CNG [auto-rickshaw] rides in Dhaka, I have seen people try to overhear how much money I, their “guest”, am paying, to make sure I am not being ripped off. I can only imagine they have been just as hospitable to other travellers.

However, no amount of good behaviour, no amount of apologising can make up for what happened last night. For the most important issue right now is not the image of the Bangladeshi fan. It’s that there was a security breach last night and no authority right now is ready to acknowledge it. It’s that last night Chris Gayle felt unsafe in the country. That he wondered how, if those responsible for security couldn’t keep stones away, they would keep bullets away. When your house is robbed, you don’t debate the robbers’ moral make-up, you think of how you could have protected your house better.

The incident has evoked reactions from the three main parties: the police, BCB and ICC. All three reactions have been shoddy. The police, for some reason, thought that they needed to stress that the people were attacking their own countrymen, not the visitors, and that it was a case of mistaken identity. Not only is that version not accurate – ESPNcricinfo learned later in the night that both buses were hit and there wasn’t much to tell one bus from the other – but it beggared belief how attacking Bangladesh players can be seen as a smaller security failure than attacking the West Indians.

Mustafa Kamal, the BCB president, issued an apology but did not concede to the incident being a security failure. His version was that the stones came from “far away from the main road”. How reassuring to the players who genuinely felt they were in danger. How reassuring that only troublemakers on the main road can be taken care of, not those immediately beyond.

Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, seems to have gone a step further. “It was a few individuals who threw pebbles at the bus, and they were pebbles,” he said. Pebbles don’t crack bulletproof glasses – something the West Indies media manager confirmed to ESPNcricinfo - do they?

It is understandable that the establishment doesn’t want to create panic, and wants to play down the whole thing. It is also hoped that their actual reaction to all this will be different from the statements they are making in public. For the moment, how about not making it sound like nothing happened?

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by romanpears on (March 31, 2011, 5:15 GMT)

I see whole lot of dirty comments.some geniuses were referring to Calcutta incident,No body thrown pebbles on the players ,angry crowd was evacuated .One of the idiot was referring to mumbai incident ,it was attack by terrorist not by some average citizen.Get a life...

Posted by shan on (March 15, 2011, 7:42 GMT)

Mr. Monga, tour diaries are meant to provide facts and stories & background of the touring cities..rather criticizing the city or the country always. I am not from B'desh, but I was really proud to see the B'deshi fans to apologise for that.Its a great lesson for us Indian also.I think, u need to to re-brush ur lesson of Journalism before coverng the story. journalists have some basic legacy and responsibility to be carried and not to overreact to get some cheap paycheck (for which u can go 4 the stupid Reality show)!!Lastly, nobody is curious to Follow what Gayle is Twitting, as he is more inreseted in Dancing rather than batting..Let him show his powress with India on next Sunday !!!!

Posted by Mushfiq on (March 11, 2011, 7:25 GMT)

my comment, apparently, was too critical of mr. monga's writing for cricinfo's filters. however, another commenter who has labelled "indian hindus" and "bangalees" with very colourful name, has not had his comment moderated. go figure !

its just sad that mr. monga has not been able to see the REAL big picture out there. thousands of fans apologising to chris gayle - not a big issue ?!? the man didn't even acknowledge the apology. its just sad that he, coming from WI where there have been past incidents of pitch-invasion and such things, did not give a damn about the apology of so many fans, despite having tweeted the attack straightaway ! the gracious cricketer would surely reflect on both sides of the coin, not just the uglier one.

yes, once again, as a bangladeshi, my apologies remain. however, cricinfo would be a better place if sidhharth monga would drop his antagonistic tone against BD.

and if they moderated their comments better.

Posted by SaintBD on (March 10, 2011, 10:01 GMT)

NOBODY IN THE WORLD .... NO SECURITY AGENCY can STOP THIS KIND OF ATTACK.

Security people focus their energy and emphasis on REAL harmful threats, like Bombs, Gun Fire etc. They do not even think of stone (Or pebble) throwing incidents.

Lets not forget, some of the world's most protected individuals were subjected to shoe throwing including a US President.

THE ONLY WAY TO STOP THIS KIND OF ATTACK IS TO HAVE A "CURFEW" IN EFFECT AND THEN ORDER EVERY ROOF TO BE EMPTIED, EVERY DOOR AND WINDOW TO BE SHUT THROUGHOUT THE ROUTE THE PLAYERS WILL TAKE. THIS IS BECAUSE THERE ARE SOME LUNATICS IN EVERY COUNTRY.

Posted by Kamrul on (March 10, 2011, 9:37 GMT)

Mr. Monga, what it seems you are trying to rectify an unfortunate incident to a disaster. Your view toward people and toward a nation need to be changed. What u think police should make people halt and make thousand of fans hands up when bus were passing them? We know our people and I can assure all concerned that nothing serious gonna happen. Mr. Monga: Thumbs down.

Posted by Jim on (March 10, 2011, 8:06 GMT)

The time I saw the title of the blog, I was depressed. Hundreds of people out of their living bought flowers and stood outside the hotel very early in the morning and said Sorry. If we say that it can't mask the bigger picture, we are the ones who are doing such horrible mistake. It's agreed that Sid's points are perfect in the article but the title is so misleading that it raises doubts whether the title was made up to evoke emotions among the online readers. One commenter here has raised a very valid point. Did Chris Gayle thanked the fans who said sorry? Why did he just spit out only expletives when the incident happened? In spite of being a celebrity, he acted so cheap. Why don't we forgive few fans who acted cheaply out of their emotion. Both Chris Gayle and these fans acted the same way. Does Chris Gayle apologize for his bad words and his theatrics, or at least thank the good fans of the country?

Posted by shaun on (March 8, 2011, 11:27 GMT)

My problem is not with the actual incident, as I can understand the reaction of the fans. My problem is with the comments of the CEO of ICC. How is heavens name can he make a comment like that. roll back time four years and imagine something like that happening in the west indies and it wound have been a BIG PROBLEM for west indies.

Posted by shaun on (March 8, 2011, 10:55 GMT)

My problem is not with the actual incident, as I can understand the reaction of the fans. My problem is with the comments of the CEO of ICC. How is heavens name can he make a comment like that. roll back time four years and imagine something like that happening in the west indies and it wound have been a BIG PROBLEM for west indies.

Posted by Khan_Pakistan on (March 8, 2011, 10:37 GMT)

when South African Cricket fans threw empty bottles on Indian Bowler Srisant and SA captain apologized for the incident.....

Posted by 5_Year_itch on (March 8, 2011, 7:20 GMT)

The writers thoughts are not unwarranted. Well BD seems to be catching up with the Pakistanis, I just hope they are always as poor as now, to not afford a Gun !!

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