July 18, 2012

Indian cricket

Time to tread carefully on India-Pakistan series

George Binoy

"It may pay to be far more cautious in negotiating this restart than earlier ones in 1978, then 1999, and finally in 2004, not least because until and unless the first ball is actually delivered, in Kolkata probably sometime near Christmas, we cannot assume that it is actually happening," says Osman Samiudin, writing on the India-Pakistan series in the National. "This is not cynicism."

Through a narrower gaze, though, there is reason to wonder at the timing of the decision and the nature of the scheduling. Is it necessary – or even advisable – to shoehorn this commitment into the middle of an England tour to India? Maybe, you know, the idea was to downplay it, to generate less heat around the contests. Cram it into a packed calendar and de-passion it as just another quickie Sri Lanka series? That might be to imagine more sense in administrators than they possess: there were likely more pragmatic compulsions, a vote in waiting perhaps for the next time an important decision goes to the ICC table?

"Pay no attention to the spoilsports. It is a cricketing crime to keep India, Pakistan away from each other," says the editorial in the Indian Express.

If governments are sure about the security of players and spectators, who wouldn’t want to watch Virender Sehwag take guard against Umar Gul or sit transfixed to know how Sachin Tendulkar would handle Saeed Ajmal this time?

The Telegraph, however, says the reasons for resumption of cricket ties are economic.

In Wisden India, Anand Vasu's take on the India-Pakistan series is not so upbeat.

If Pakistan do come to India later this year – December is a long way off, and not insignificantly, only a few days after the fourth anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks – you can be sure it’s happened for anything but cricketing reasons. After all, if the two boards were genuinely interested in what happened on the field, they’d wait longer and schedule a full series, not an apology squeezed in when England return home from India for their Christmas-New Year break. Exactly why India and Pakistan are so keen to play cricket against each other now, you and I will never know. When India and Pakistan engage, the truth is always the first victim. If that doesn’t scare you at some level, perhaps nothing will.


George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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