Fallout of the Lahore attack

Lahore casts IPL shadow in New Zealand

Sidharth Monga in Wellington

March 4, 2009

Comments: 36 | Text size: A | A

Top Curve
Fletcher warns against playing in India
  • Duncan Fletcher has cautioned England's players against playing the IPL, saying some types of terrorist attacks can be carried out more easily in India than Pakistan.
  • "The traffic is often so bad in the big [Indian] cities where a lot of the cricket is played that the coach can move along only slowly at times, which turns it into a sitting duck for terrorists," he wrote in his Guardian column. "There's nothing stopping a tuk-tuk pulling up alongside and detonating a bomb.
  • "If I were one of the England guys who signed up for the IPL, I would be concerned." Several leading England players, including Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, have signed lucrative contracts to play in this season's IPL, which is scheduled to start next month.
Bottom Curve

Tuesday's terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore has led to a heightened anxiety among the New Zealand players over touring India for next month's IPL, with eight players expected to feature in the tournament which runs from April 10-May 24. Their concerns over playing in India existed, it turns out, even before last night's incident.

New Zealand allrounder Jacob Oram said the events in Pakistan have only worsened the state. "Definitely after what happened in Mumbai late last year, and what happened last night, it keeps raising questions," said Oram, who is part of the Chennai Super Kings squad in the IPL along with Stephen Fleming.

"Before that I wouldn't have had any worries. Now, though, questions have got to be asked. Heath Mills [the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association chief] and the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations [FICA] are looking into security measures. Last year the IPL was amazing, with all the fanfare, but now reality has hit hard."

Heath Mills told Cricinfo that the New Zealand players were more concerned about the security measures and that he had received calls from a couple of them even before the Lahore attack, enquiring about the security arrangements in the IPL.

"Our players don't have any direct dealings with the BCCI or the IPL," Mills said. "The most important thing right now would be for the BCCI and IPL to deal with players directly, and also with FICA. That will give them a reassurance about the security situation."

FICA and the NZCPA are likely to play an important role in any decision regarding the IPL. Although the NZCPA and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) can only make recommendations, it is unlikely the players will take individual calls.

"We back our player association and NZC to make the decision," Oram said. "NZC have been great so far whenever we have toured dicey countries. They have left it up to players. That decision is made with friends and family and wives in mind. Until a tour like that comes around, I wouldn't be sticking my neck out. But I will be thinking twice."

He said it was a relief, though, that NZC was looking into the Pakistan tour - scheduled for later this year. "That takes a decision out of a player's hand," he said. "That's always tough when an individual has to take his decision. So you can see which individual has said yes or no, and it can isolate guys and set them aside from others. For NZC to say no straightaway, with the backing of NZCPA, puts us out of focus.

"The IPL has definitely opened financial doors that you can only dream of. But I am married now. It would take a lot for me to turn a blind eye to what's going on. I know the player associations around the world are looking into the security arrangement. I read that Lalit Modi had got the security beefed up. If that's the case, and if I am assured about the security, I won't say no just yet. If it gets worse, you have got to take a look at it."

Aaron Klee, Jesse Ryder's manager, said though touring India was not quite the same as touring Pakistan, there were a few concerns about the batsman turning out for the Bangalore Royal Challengers.

"I haven't spoken to Jesse as yet, but for me personally, I am pretty relaxed at this moment," Klee said. "But I wouldn't be just jumping on the plane to India since I will be sitting with the players' association people and the New Zealand Cricket officials to understand the scene better."

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Posted by promal on (March 5, 2009, 14:18 GMT)

Responding to unkith and sasidharp, your points are well-taken but I still don't think what I have said is silly. The Mexico-America hypothesis was just an example. If Mexico happened to be a hot-bed of al-Qaeda or America-haters, I can guarantee that terror strikes on soft targets in America would be as common as those in India. The same theory holds for any neighbouring pairs of countries (did Madrid bombings affect sport in France? Did London bombings stop the Ashes?) To say that the US hasn't had a terror strike after 9/11 is also invalid because they never had one before that either. Comparing defence budgets is meaningless; India spends a huge proportion of its budget allocation on defence and I'd rather we didn't. My main point was that if India says it will give its maximum security to the players and they do, but the players still refuse to come, then it is akin to subconscious racism and a convenient clubbing of neighbours, something that wouldn't be done with western nations

Posted by cricpolitics on (March 5, 2009, 14:09 GMT)

Typical Indian writer and mentality Mr. Sridath Monga. Your sheer bias is so abvious. You let the comments appear when Indians mention Pakistan as terrorist but how conveniently you filter out comments which show the ugly side of India. You won't be able to keep your eyes closed for very long and misguide rest of the world. The reality is that India has homegrown terrorists and they strike targets very frequently. Indian security forces have failed miserably every time.

Posted by popcorn on (March 5, 2009, 9:30 GMT)

Any armchair discussion on whether IPL should go on should address one question: Will you,as a common man, risk your life to watch a cricket match in a Stadium or would you prefer to watch it on TV in the safety of your home? Why talk of security for the players and officials alone? Hasn't the common man in India been the victim of terror attacks?Jaipur,Mumbai,Bangalore,Hyderabad,etc.etc. It's all about money,honey. So if the IPL must go on, players and officials should be the only ones participating in the stadium under heavy security - like the India Sri Lanka match at Eden Grdens,some years ago. Television income,Advertisement income,Player income,Franchisee income will all be tken care of. We know that IPL does not expect to generate the millions of dollars from Gate money, so if IPL must go on, play to empty stands, and it will still be viable!

Posted by unkith on (March 5, 2009, 6:32 GMT)

Dear Promal, I am Indian too and I share your angst and bewilderment in the likeness issue of Pak and India vis-a-vis security. However I think your Mexico v/s USA example is inaccurate. You really cannot compare the levels of self reconnaissance existent in the USA post 9/11 to ours. Nor can we compare the efficiency of the local police in India and the SWAT teams in the USA. And let's not even get down to the weapons comparisons between these two countries. Suffice it to say that the US spends over 800 Billion per year on defense and last year we spent close to 25. Then there's also the fact that post 9/11 there hasn't been a single terrorist attack on the USA. And whether we like it or not, you really cannot compare the safety in the lifestyle of 1st world countries to ours. In the end though, it has to be said that security will be tighter in India as compared to Pak because of the sheer difference in the comparative volumes of the security forces in the two countries.

Posted by addsmiles on (March 5, 2009, 5:21 GMT)

India and Pak are two different worlds, period. However given the kind of attention the Lahore attack garnered, I have absolutely no doubt that somebody somewhere is already planning his next attack during IPL on the cricketing fraternity. We have to admit even with all the security it is improbable but not impossible. It is very much understandable that some will refuse to participate and they are justified in doing so. However, IPL should and will go on, not playing will be akin to giving the terrorists what they want. Leave no stone unturned in making sure that the security measures are more than adequate because it's not just cricket anymore, its now also a question of national pride.

Posted by sasidharp on (March 5, 2009, 4:30 GMT)

@promal

"But if there's a blast in Lahore, why should that reignite talks of security concerns in India?"

I'm Indian and I can see quite obviously that your argument is extremely silly. There are many reasons why this should "reignite talks"

1) Cricketers were attacked for the first time - so that changes the picture. In Mumbai, only foreigners were attacked -- what's the guarantee that this time foreign cricketers aren't attacked?

2) Same terrorists - Pakistani terrorists crossed the border for the Mumbai incident. So it makes sense that if they attacked cricketers in Pakistan, it's not too hard for them to cross the border and attack any one of many places where IPL is being conducted.

3) Raises general doubt about priorities in life and risk vs reward - this attack on cricketers puts everything in a new perspective, in general, about what one's priorities are and how to weigh risk vs reward.

Posted by promal on (March 5, 2009, 2:25 GMT)

What always amazes me is how India and Pakistan are always clubbed into the "same thing". That is the most flabbergasting aspect of all these concerns/comments. Sure we know that attacks happen in India almost at will, with 2008 being a particularly bad year (Jaipur, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and then culminating in Mumbai) and so if then people feel they don't want to come, fine. But if there's a blast in Lahore, why should that reignite talks of security concerns in India? That's quite unfair. I.e. if Lahore hadn't happened, would we still be talking of cancelling IPL? I'm guessing not! Hypothetically, if there was an attack in Mexico City, would people still have issues of going to America to play sport? I think not. I think there are two problems here: 1) neighbouring 3rd world countries are often seen as the same thing by first world-citizen countries and 2) most cricketing nations are islands and so they don't know what it means to have a hostile and unsafe neighbour.

Posted by allstars_XI on (March 5, 2009, 1:24 GMT)

We must admit that terrorism is becoming a problm in the subcontinent. So I would say that it is unsafe for players to play in India and Pakistan. Just imagine if something was to happen while the players attend the IPL. Then we would be facing a situation that Pakistan is facing right now. So I would say that for the time being, players shouldn't be visiting India.

Posted by mmene on (March 4, 2009, 23:13 GMT)

I don't see why people are so defensive about people being nervous about playing in IPL. Do you think if the LeT is willing to kill cricketers in Pakistan they will have objections to doing it in India? It should be the opposite - we should be worried about the Indian cricketers who are playing in IPL. These are blood thirsty killers whose sole goal is to get the maximum publicity at any human cost. And the cheapest and easiest publicity comes from attacking visible public targets. They attacked the Sri Lankans who were trying to do a favor to Pakistan by playing there. They will probably kill their own fathers and mothers to get newspaper headlines. Why would they not try to attack Indias most internationally visible sporting event? Think about it - as much as you don't want it to happen we have to be alert to the monster next door who might just do anything. Hiding from the risk is not the answer. And no one should blame international cricketers for being worried about their lives.

Posted by waheed on (March 4, 2009, 21:18 GMT)

I think this time no country is safe even in India mumbai Attacks in Bangladesh that army incident and in sri lanka tamil scenario so dont blame any country or anyone for these conditions I think we should stand together against these kind of situations these terrorists dont have any nationality religion or name they are just enemies of PEACE...

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