February 19, 2010

Cricket in the time of terror

Security threats are a reality for Indian sporting events today. The IPL must pull through and emerge successful for the sake of the fans
36

Organisers of two major sporting events in India are currently having to live up to the standards expected of them. It is a by-product of building a reputation, for that then becomes the benchmark. Accordingly the IPL is grappling with a variety of issues, from threats of disruption to threats to life. In its first two years, the IPL set standards of excellence in organisation and now it must match those or risk creating disillusionment.

At the other end, the organisers of the Commonwealth Games set the performance bar as low as possible; so low in fact that it is difficult to slip under it. But since reputations must be defended, they periodically accomplish even this daunting task. In the melee that will inevitably result, hopefully they will get by, but they are testing the just-in-time principle that is so dear to management gurus.

Sadly, however, India, and people dealing with India, must realise that we live increasingly in an environment of uncertainty. The English Premier League knows when Manchester United will play Chelsea in the 2010-11 season. They don't realise how blessed they are to be able to do that. Twenty-two days before the IPL opener there could still be changes to the schedule as political turmoil and the inevitable whiff of terrorism come calling. It is an unhappy situation and it calls for different approaches.

That is why we in India must not just budget for chaos but learn to revel in it. As the air grows more sinister, as forces of evil group together in the name of religion and freedom, we have to think on our feet. It is an unhappy but inevitable way of life, and that is why the IPL needs to have, not just a Plan B but a Plan C and a Plan D. And that is where in their little existence - remember the IPL is still but a baby - they have been so good. You might get the feeling that they are autocratic, audacious, even arrogant, but sometimes you need to drive your way through chaos; you cannot get stuck in it.

It might be Telangana today, Shiv Sena yesterday and tomorrow, but those are minor impediments. They might throw stones, disrupt traffic; at worst, dig up a pitch. Their danger does not extend too much further because all they seek is political mileage (as an aside, it must be a strange situation where disruption is seen as a way to earn mileage). But they will not maim or kill innocent people, they will not use rocket launchers or set off bombs. The danger to the IPL does not come from them. You have to plan for them, walk a tightrope, even give them the nuisance value they crave, but the enemy is elsewhere. If part of the organisation of a major event involves protecting lives, the world is grim. And yet the IPL and the Commonwealth Games must survive in this atmosphere (though the organisers of the Games create their own chaos rather than wait for someone else to deliver it).

In spite of it all, sport needs to exist, because it is one of the few things that brings a smile through honest efforts; whether it is football in Africa, cricket in Afghanistan, or indeed, the IPL in India

In spite of it all, sport needs to exist, to flourish because it is one of the few things that brings a smile through honest efforts; whether it is football in Africa, cricket in Afghanistan. Or indeed, the IPL in India, which needs to succeed because a consumer-centric, privately driven enterprise has to be seen to be working. It is no different from the English premiership, and yet, strangely, in spite of its dubious owners, the EPL is applauded and the IPL thumbed down. Eventually the EPL delivers great entertainment, even if John Terry is in the news more for what he did with his former colleague's former partner than for his prowess in Chelsea's defence.

The IPL seeks to entertain, too, and that is why it needs to be strong. Cricket must evolve and the IPL, and the Indian consumer, is at the heart of this evolution. I must admit there are aspects to the IPL I disagree with. The commercial intrusion through "strategy" breaks and different nomenclature for boundaries for example. But eventually it brings a smile. I hope it is not disrupted. I hope no sport is disrupted, for there is no greater feel-good factor in the world we are in, and are heading into.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • KTiwari on February 22, 2010, 22:19 GMT

    Thanks Harsha. Whether any foreign cricketers comes or not. IPL has to happen and we Indian will enjoy & support. We will be happy to watch our Dravid, Ganguly, Sachin, Dhoni, Yuvraj.....and all the young cricketers....

  • PakTheBest2010 on February 22, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    shiv sina and other terrorist organisations in india are extremely dangerous and they have already given threats. blast in pune is a living proof. we should think with our mind and not hearts and its better to move out cricket events away to australia. i would love to see bouncy pithces instead of dead subcontinent pitches.

  • sudzz71 on February 22, 2010, 14:39 GMT

    This is totally off the mark, yes we can plan for the unplannable but to condone not informing people of what arrangements are being made to protect them is totally irrational.

    IPL has to face these threats -that is a reality, but why should the participants not know what is being done to ensure their safety?

  • pk_tan on February 22, 2010, 13:48 GMT

    Some comments are crazy. one talking abt 100s freedom movement I do not think he/she knows India. Everyone in India vote for govt including kashmir last turn out was 55%. One Paki dont like Indians and saying the threat are real...irony is, this freak is threatening from Pak and paki is saying threat is real. Historically there had been a successful attack in India after warning...pune bast was a desparate attempt as they were not able to hit the osho ashram and Jews place

    These paki will never change hope and will reach stone age gradually

  • Samrachana on February 22, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    Dear Sir, I love to watch cricket to a great extent, and pleased to see Cricket extending its popularitial territory.

    I have a new concept on this nice game, that will help boost its popularity to a much higher level and drastically change its dimensions. I would like to be assured that my copyright will be ensured and my idea will reach to the right place. Hoping for your co-operation on this case, Prabin basantaprabin@gmail.com

  • shaantanu on February 22, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    @westaustralian:thank you sir for you nice comments.so very kind of you.

  • on February 21, 2010, 20:03 GMT

    @invincible-fighter,"how biased mr.harsha..i wonder if the same kind of threats were given to a tournament being organised in pakistan what would have been your take"... Well, you still dont understand the situation. If the same kind of threat given to any event, let alone a 'high profile cricket tournament' in Pakistan, it would have been called off hands down...Thats the differnce between Indian and Pakistani Current affairs, let alone the history!

    @U.A.1985,"How many so called "developed" nations in the world are facing troubles with 100s of freedoms movements? Only 1.... Astonished by figures?"...Can you post any facts on this...India do not even have 100 Provinces and I do not know of general public involved in freedom struggle(in Kashmir and the North-East) other than a bunch of Cave Dwelling Terrorists. And I dont think you know of a country called China which has forcibly acquired a lot of real estate along its periphery.

  • U.A.1985 on February 21, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    @siddhartpandit

    " India is most developed"

    How many so called "developed" nations in the world are facing troubles with 100s of freedoms movements? Only 1....

    Astonished by figures? It was very easy to assume thing, right!!

  • PakTheBest2010 on February 21, 2010, 6:38 GMT

    I do respect harsha article as he is an indian. But i will suggest all international cricketers to think twice in the wake of these threats happening. We just saw a big bomb blast in pune which means the threats are extremely real.

  • knowledge_eater on February 21, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    I had a feeling that my two long paragraphs won't be published, may be it was just for Mr. Bhogle to think about, but all i wanted to say in simple word. I am really tired of hearing threats like this whenever sports are being played. I liked only one threat when my Dad used to warn me that he is not going to allow me to play in evening if i don't finish my home-work (my teen age days) :P i can bear that threat, but not these pointless one. Peace

  • KTiwari on February 22, 2010, 22:19 GMT

    Thanks Harsha. Whether any foreign cricketers comes or not. IPL has to happen and we Indian will enjoy & support. We will be happy to watch our Dravid, Ganguly, Sachin, Dhoni, Yuvraj.....and all the young cricketers....

  • PakTheBest2010 on February 22, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    shiv sina and other terrorist organisations in india are extremely dangerous and they have already given threats. blast in pune is a living proof. we should think with our mind and not hearts and its better to move out cricket events away to australia. i would love to see bouncy pithces instead of dead subcontinent pitches.

  • sudzz71 on February 22, 2010, 14:39 GMT

    This is totally off the mark, yes we can plan for the unplannable but to condone not informing people of what arrangements are being made to protect them is totally irrational.

    IPL has to face these threats -that is a reality, but why should the participants not know what is being done to ensure their safety?

  • pk_tan on February 22, 2010, 13:48 GMT

    Some comments are crazy. one talking abt 100s freedom movement I do not think he/she knows India. Everyone in India vote for govt including kashmir last turn out was 55%. One Paki dont like Indians and saying the threat are real...irony is, this freak is threatening from Pak and paki is saying threat is real. Historically there had been a successful attack in India after warning...pune bast was a desparate attempt as they were not able to hit the osho ashram and Jews place

    These paki will never change hope and will reach stone age gradually

  • Samrachana on February 22, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    Dear Sir, I love to watch cricket to a great extent, and pleased to see Cricket extending its popularitial territory.

    I have a new concept on this nice game, that will help boost its popularity to a much higher level and drastically change its dimensions. I would like to be assured that my copyright will be ensured and my idea will reach to the right place. Hoping for your co-operation on this case, Prabin basantaprabin@gmail.com

  • shaantanu on February 22, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    @westaustralian:thank you sir for you nice comments.so very kind of you.

  • on February 21, 2010, 20:03 GMT

    @invincible-fighter,"how biased mr.harsha..i wonder if the same kind of threats were given to a tournament being organised in pakistan what would have been your take"... Well, you still dont understand the situation. If the same kind of threat given to any event, let alone a 'high profile cricket tournament' in Pakistan, it would have been called off hands down...Thats the differnce between Indian and Pakistani Current affairs, let alone the history!

    @U.A.1985,"How many so called "developed" nations in the world are facing troubles with 100s of freedoms movements? Only 1.... Astonished by figures?"...Can you post any facts on this...India do not even have 100 Provinces and I do not know of general public involved in freedom struggle(in Kashmir and the North-East) other than a bunch of Cave Dwelling Terrorists. And I dont think you know of a country called China which has forcibly acquired a lot of real estate along its periphery.

  • U.A.1985 on February 21, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    @siddhartpandit

    " India is most developed"

    How many so called "developed" nations in the world are facing troubles with 100s of freedoms movements? Only 1....

    Astonished by figures? It was very easy to assume thing, right!!

  • PakTheBest2010 on February 21, 2010, 6:38 GMT

    I do respect harsha article as he is an indian. But i will suggest all international cricketers to think twice in the wake of these threats happening. We just saw a big bomb blast in pune which means the threats are extremely real.

  • knowledge_eater on February 21, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    I had a feeling that my two long paragraphs won't be published, may be it was just for Mr. Bhogle to think about, but all i wanted to say in simple word. I am really tired of hearing threats like this whenever sports are being played. I liked only one threat when my Dad used to warn me that he is not going to allow me to play in evening if i don't finish my home-work (my teen age days) :P i can bear that threat, but not these pointless one. Peace

  • invincible-fighter on February 20, 2010, 19:28 GMT

    how biased mr.harsha..i wonder if the same kind of threats were given to a tournament being organised in pakistan what would have been your take? and

  • Saieen on February 20, 2010, 17:44 GMT

    in the ned its all about money, for both sides. harsha is trying his best to make a flawed case of IPL to go ahead. players don't think india is a dangerous place simply because they know how much they are going to earn, even if it means putting their own lives at risk, not to mention the lives of those who will attend the matches. india is definitely not as bad as pakistan but at the same time is not as secure as westerners think. all threats should be taken seriously be it shiv sena, freedom fighters or other fanatics. what if someone gets killed by shiv sens tomorrow, are you willing to take the blame harsha for saying that shiv sens is not a serious threat?

  • Sekhar_S on February 20, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    Harsha,security threats have become part and parcel of not only cricket but every other sport.Many countries are contemplating on skipping the CWG.Cricket boards are working overtime to provide foolproof security for every single international match.Players should stand united in the face of such threats and instead of skipping sporting events,must go out and play and show that sport can never cow down.

  • on February 20, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    IPL and the Hockey World Cup must go through successfully as this can define the state of sports in the subcontinent for coming years. If by the Grace of God there are no terrorist attacks during these events then there is a chance that more events can take place in India and Pakistan over the coming years.

  • henchart on February 20, 2010, 2:10 GMT

    The prejudiced mindset of westerners has to change.Let them not act holier than thou.Westaustralian is right only to the extent that BCCI wields more clout than all other cricket boards put together and terror attacks in India dont result in pull outs as is the case in Pakistan and Srilanka.Terror attacks are taking place world wide and as Mr.Bhogle conveyed,sports must not be made a victim/scapegoat.

  • vas006 on February 19, 2010, 20:03 GMT

    What Lahore taught us is if the terrorists have a will, there is a way. I'm not sure how much benefit of doubt can be given when the issue of people's lives come into question.

    I would like the IPL to go on, but it's apparent that terrorists are using India's recent rise as a global power for their own ends. I would hate to see the consequences of their threats before people realise the fatal mistake made.

    Last year's IPL showed that it could be taken overseas and still retain its spectacle. That may be the avenue the IPL must pursue until these elements are addressed. Of course, it's more complex than that, and it may never be fully addressed.

    @WestAustralian, as an Indian-born who now LOUDLY and PROUDLY calls himself Australian, that is oversimplifying matters. For the PCB and Sri Lanka, playing a series in India represents a huge cash injection. However, India touring Pakistan or Sri Lanka is less so.

    You may think it's all about money, but we all do it, even Cricket Australia.

  • on February 19, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    Now Now, funny aren't we as people, when you are not with the establishment in this case the IPL and write an article on the IPL one says you are Indian so obviously you will support it, if you are not an Indian like a certain Gideon Heigh then you are branded for being an IPL basher since well he is a non-Indian, if you are an Indian or perhaps not one and happen to be on the pay roll of the IPL and then happen to write an article you are deemed as an opportunist, lets see is there any other permutation left! the point is no one is neutral in this world my friend, everyone has vested interest, but that doesn't mean one cant say or write anything, in that regard every commentator in a cricket match is biased towards his country but of course he is, but he still tries to remain neutral by giving a perspective on both sides doesn't he, so stop being cynical about everything that is written, like Don Marquis once said "A hypocrite is a person who - but who isn't? "

  • sk089 on February 19, 2010, 12:14 GMT

    Hi Harsha nice article.But IPL will definitely win the battle against terror. After India's win while speaking in CNN IBN , you were asked about crowd at the Eden. You replied that it is the same at Mumbai . Alas, the response was very poor in CCI which hosted a test after 36 years during the Ind SL test. Hope you had appreciated the difference bw 10000( mumbai) and 35000+( eden) spectators.

  • rickywanting on February 19, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    Just wanted to add that by becoming part of the IPL, Harsha has joined the establishment. He's no longer a neutral observer and his views should be treated with this in mind.

  • rickywanting on February 19, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    For the sake of fans indeed! Perhaps Harsha should make a disclosure about his financial interest in IPL, if any. Is he working with any team as a consultant, as he did in the first season? He's making money doing commentary (aka cheerleading) for IPL games, though perhaps that shouldn't really count. But if IPL does very well, he stands to gain, doesn't he.

  • on February 19, 2010, 7:25 GMT

    I couldn't agree more with all the people who have commented after westaustralian, that is why I guess they say truth is more important than facts.. and I am afraid in your case even the facts were wrong, nonetheless kudos to Harsha, this is not an article on the IPL my friends it is an article on the bigger picture, the state of Sport, any sport in todays world, hats of Harsha!

  • on February 19, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    @Westaustralian, when you happen to post things like more lives have been lost in India due to bombs than anywhere else in the subcontinent, I am afraid you have not only got your facts wrong it just shows the ignorance that is deep rooted within people of the island continent, do you think Indian students would stop coming to Australia just because there are a few racist elements, ofcourse not because they are aware that in general most Australians are good and they would be treated well, the same goes for countries visiting India, yes there are security threats, but just look at the turmoil that is happening around India and then look through an Indians eyes you will be astonished to see how India is fighting to keep peace in these troubled times, this is why I want to see other nations come to India and play the IPL, no one is trying to hide they will be paid a lot, ofcourse they will be, but it is the larger picture that should be seen here.. nothing unites like sport

  • TheOnlyEmperor on February 19, 2010, 7:09 GMT

    @westernaustralian: More lives have not been lost in India due to terrorism than Pak - that's so not true. I really don't know what people read in West Australia. Besides, the terror attacks designed to cause max collateral damage in both India and Pak are Pak sponsored. If after all this, if any team wishes to go to Pak, they are welcome. BCCI's money power doesn't help if teams don't want to play in India. The BCCI and the Indian government offer assurances and security pretty much the same way the Australian government promises security to Indian students in Australia - excepting that they are more sincere.

  • ramesh_sound on February 19, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    Why is West Australian taking money route on India? India is a complex country of 1.2 billion people, where even a 2% fringe can be dangerous. Australia which has 3% of India's population cannot prevent Indians being bashed up all over the place and can't prevent a Pakistan player being manhandled on the cricket field. India has it problems. Sometimes it solves it well and sometimes in a hamhanded manner; But never wish away the problem like Australia or say it is all victim's fault. India does have a dangerous problem with Pakistan. But Pakistani players in India and vice versa have been always treated with courtesy. Helps to have a 2000 year culture I guess

  • TamilIndian on February 19, 2010, 6:41 GMT

    @westaustralian can you please provide your source of information? ie regarding your major revelation that India has had more deaths due to bombings when compared to Pakistan and Srilanka?

  • Siddharth_Pandit on February 19, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    @westaustralian - Pls don't assume things...The lives lost in India due to terror don't add up to even 1/100th of lives lost in Pakistan or Afghanistan. I am not sure of which nationality you belong to, but sitting there you won't hear of the blasts and lost lives in countries like pak. India is most developed and yet so much vulnerable (I have to admit that) compared to other developed nations in other continents. this is the prime reason you hear of even a single blast which goes off here. In 2008 and 2009 , there have been arnd 200+ blasts in Pakistan, astonished by figures? It was very easy to assume thing, right?

  • RameshNatarajan on February 19, 2010, 6:01 GMT

    @westaustralian "But all this after considering the fact that more lives have been lost in India due to bombs than anywhere else in the subcontinent."

    Care to put facts in front of us ?

  • on February 19, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    Last week it was football this week its john terry ,commonweath games organising commitee .... Harsha cant you write a piece without making fun all other things apart from cricket ... Yesterday after along time i felt happy following cricket match on cricinfo ffrom office .. but your column has again lived up to its usual carp

  • akhilhp on February 19, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    @westaustralian I do not think ever in India a Players Bus was attacked...

  • TwitterJitter on February 19, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    @wanderer1 - Making profits is not mutually exclusive to providing consumer entertainment (which is what Harsha said). The consumer decides the goods/services that provide best value for the buck. A movie maker, theater owner, the food stalls they all run business for making money and profits. Along the way they provide a service or deliver a goods the value proposition of which is decided by the consumer. All sporting events (yes even test matches) are provided by its owners to provide entertainment and along the way make money/profits. That includes our employers who provide our salaries, olympic committee, and common wealth games committee. What is not acceptable is some terrorist sitting in some cave deciding he can influence people's behavior. If he realizes he can scare people and alter their behavior, then we will have some idiot issuing a threat for any and all events in future and we can forget sports/movies or other entertainment.

  • DrPrashant on February 19, 2010, 3:58 GMT

    I have been a big fan of Harsha's writing for many years now and have always enjoyed the pure cricketing thoughts that he so beautifully brings out using very articulate language. But off late, I have been disappointed with his significantly biased views on the IPL. Yes, I do understand that he is a part of the great circus that is IPL and naturally would be prone to taking a favourable stand towards it. But I would really like to see Harsha writing as a neutral, as someone who is looking at the IPL from outside it. That is the true Harsha we have come to know over the years!

  • Sidhanta-Patnaik on February 19, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    I guess soon all the teams will realise that terror coexists in their neighbourhood and they have to live with the reality.

  • uglyhunK on February 19, 2010, 3:38 GMT

    @wanderer, you will appreciate the article if you experience how it is like staying next to the most dangerous country in the world. If you are an Indian, then you must have had a horrible childhood that you become so insensitive to the happenings in the world.

  • nskaile on February 19, 2010, 3:01 GMT

    Yes, We need IPL and we want it to happen without any bombblast and without any protest! Dying to see IPL 3.0, so i really hope all goes well! And i see lot ppl complaing aboout adds and stuff well there is no tv ch. in the world which dont show any adds during the game, be it soccer, american football, basketball etc! If they stop showing adds then how will they make money? and if they wont make tht money how will they keep their ch. running? and i really hope all the players show up at IPL!

  • TwitterJitter on February 19, 2010, 2:07 GMT

    Excellent piece Harsha! You have been on a roll these days. :-)

  • wanderer1 on February 19, 2010, 1:07 GMT

    The IPL must pull through for the sake of money and profits. Let's not twist this into more than what it is. IPL is pay-day.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • wanderer1 on February 19, 2010, 1:07 GMT

    The IPL must pull through for the sake of money and profits. Let's not twist this into more than what it is. IPL is pay-day.

  • TwitterJitter on February 19, 2010, 2:07 GMT

    Excellent piece Harsha! You have been on a roll these days. :-)

  • nskaile on February 19, 2010, 3:01 GMT

    Yes, We need IPL and we want it to happen without any bombblast and without any protest! Dying to see IPL 3.0, so i really hope all goes well! And i see lot ppl complaing aboout adds and stuff well there is no tv ch. in the world which dont show any adds during the game, be it soccer, american football, basketball etc! If they stop showing adds then how will they make money? and if they wont make tht money how will they keep their ch. running? and i really hope all the players show up at IPL!

  • uglyhunK on February 19, 2010, 3:38 GMT

    @wanderer, you will appreciate the article if you experience how it is like staying next to the most dangerous country in the world. If you are an Indian, then you must have had a horrible childhood that you become so insensitive to the happenings in the world.

  • Sidhanta-Patnaik on February 19, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    I guess soon all the teams will realise that terror coexists in their neighbourhood and they have to live with the reality.

  • DrPrashant on February 19, 2010, 3:58 GMT

    I have been a big fan of Harsha's writing for many years now and have always enjoyed the pure cricketing thoughts that he so beautifully brings out using very articulate language. But off late, I have been disappointed with his significantly biased views on the IPL. Yes, I do understand that he is a part of the great circus that is IPL and naturally would be prone to taking a favourable stand towards it. But I would really like to see Harsha writing as a neutral, as someone who is looking at the IPL from outside it. That is the true Harsha we have come to know over the years!

  • TwitterJitter on February 19, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    @wanderer1 - Making profits is not mutually exclusive to providing consumer entertainment (which is what Harsha said). The consumer decides the goods/services that provide best value for the buck. A movie maker, theater owner, the food stalls they all run business for making money and profits. Along the way they provide a service or deliver a goods the value proposition of which is decided by the consumer. All sporting events (yes even test matches) are provided by its owners to provide entertainment and along the way make money/profits. That includes our employers who provide our salaries, olympic committee, and common wealth games committee. What is not acceptable is some terrorist sitting in some cave deciding he can influence people's behavior. If he realizes he can scare people and alter their behavior, then we will have some idiot issuing a threat for any and all events in future and we can forget sports/movies or other entertainment.

  • akhilhp on February 19, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    @westaustralian I do not think ever in India a Players Bus was attacked...

  • on February 19, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    Last week it was football this week its john terry ,commonweath games organising commitee .... Harsha cant you write a piece without making fun all other things apart from cricket ... Yesterday after along time i felt happy following cricket match on cricinfo ffrom office .. but your column has again lived up to its usual carp

  • RameshNatarajan on February 19, 2010, 6:01 GMT

    @westaustralian "But all this after considering the fact that more lives have been lost in India due to bombs than anywhere else in the subcontinent."

    Care to put facts in front of us ?