Summer of Two ‘O nine

What a gullible lot, we, the Asians especially in the Indian sub-continent are? Whatever the West does, we tend to ape them and sometimes we take a step further and embrace things that even they are scared to tread upon. At the same time, the subjugated lot that we are -- we will dance to whatever the tune that they will even play with a flat horn.

Yes, that was a very broad statement. Now we will try to navigate the same within the precincts of the game of cricket that we all love so much. First of all, faraway in England they cook up a political row with a former colony of theirs called Zimbabwe which was in their time was known as Rhodesia. We do not want to delve into who did what in the past and who is doing what at present. However, the reality is at present the two regimes do not see eye-to-eye or even take the risk of walking down a dark ally on their own when either is present.

Ironically, even in Zimbabwe, the game of cricket, which their so-called rulers indulged in the past, is still a very popular one and even the children of the land have taken to it in a big way. Nevertheless, because of the political upheavals even a Zimbabwean who wields bat instead of a sword is deemed persona-non-grata in the land of the Queen of England.

Now to make a long story short, the proposed Zimbabwean FTP tour to England next early summer is cancelled on a political decision. An ECB communiqué stated on June 25 “The ECB deplores the position in Zimbabwe and, like Cricket South Africa, finds this untenable. Therefore, all bilateral arrangements are suspended with Zimbabwe Cricket with immediate effect.

The Government has written to the ECB today and has made a clear instruction that Zimbabwe’s bilateral tour scheduled under the ICC Future Tours Programme for 2009 should be cancelled.
The ECB is now in detailed discussions to identify a replacement country to tour in the early part of the summer of 2009.

At this time the chairman SLC Arjuna Ranatunge was in England and he in consultation with the ECB, drew up the tour plan as well as the inter-alia, even without bothering to find what other developments that the SLC was up to with cricket related matters at this end.

It is good to get a tour worked out especially if it is a Test tour as Sri Lanka is really short of Test matches. But, as Mr. Ranatunge knows the Sri Lanka cricketers had entered into an agreement with the IPL that had a three year obligation and as well there are another lot of people who have been appointed just like him in a committee as the custodians of the game in the land. Still he does a solo effort and at the end of it, the antipathy and the general interaction at this end is icy cold.

The players go to the highest citadel to get their consolation, while the cricketing authorities are stuck in a very awkward position, while ECB is wondering how they are getting out of this knotty problem. First, their stubborn stance saw Zimbabwe out. Then find the doings of the gullible and the ever-willing Indian-sub continent cohort stuck in a web of twisters that will be hard to untangle, as the England’s cricket season is rather limited and at that time, they usually entertain two visitors on their land on separate tours.

Then we also take the wisdom of a sub-continent contingent taking on an early summer tour of England along with a brief history of Lankans in England. Initially, Sri Lanka has never set foot on England on a national tour during the month of April. Really, it is still Spring Time and the Northern half of the planet is just thawing itself from the harsh winter. At the same time, cricketers in the southern half of the planet are just beginning to experience the hottest days of their 365-day summer and on that scenario that they will have to leave for England to play cricket.

Sri Lanka made their first official tour in August 1984 during late summer and did well to christen their arrival at Lords’ with a scintillating performance. From that point onwards Sri Lanka were entertained on one-off tours till 1998 when the Lankans took the pommies by the scruff of their necks when Sanath dashed a double hundred and Murali made them fall like a pack of dominos.

England had learned their lesson, and there were no more mister-nice-guy and one-off tests. In their next hosting Lankans were given the first slot in during May-June in a three test series. This time England had a morale boosting 2-0 win in the three-test series. Four years later in 2006, it was the same treatment with a May-June invitation, but, the Lankans thawed themselves after the initial freeze to give England another lesson that they would remember vividly for some time.

Remember the 2002 and 2006 tours ran from May to June and this proposed one is from April to May. Even if the Lankans had to sacrifice IPL obligations, is this the opportune time to make a tour of England during the thawing period?

Right now, countries are very conscious about their international rankings and do prepare their entire arsenal accordingly. However, this also seems that we were in hunt only for a few dollars more.
Once again talking about the gullible Asians what happened to the referrals that was to be introduced during the current England-South Africa series. Both teams were reluctant to tread on unknown ground, but, we the Asians took it up gleefully to notch another first. Not stopping at that the ICC also has relegated the local umpires to fourth position and none will sit as the third during this series.

Mark Benson. Rudy Koertzen and Billy Doctrove will stand in the middle as well and act also the third umpire during the whole series. Whatever the west wants to dish out to their eastern brethren they take it with a smile on their faces. But, the worst of them all is that when Asian umpires were assigned for the Asia Cup, Ashraful Haq of the ACC Council, saw to that no Asian umpire stood during the Asia Cup.
What more do you want?

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