Monday, 7 March 2011

Murder by Cricket: Part 2? I hope not.

It was surprising to see this week during the ICC Cricket World Cup that the West Indies team bus was attacked by angry fans who were throwing stones and "pebbles" at them after they convincingly defeated Bangladesh on their home turf (story as reported by AFP here).

For the Windies, it is unfortunate since they weren't the intended target of this rage but rather it was directed towards the Bangladeshi team which was bowled out for a paltry 58 runs.  However, I'm guessing since all buses look alike for the teams competing in the World Cup, Bangaldeshi fans didn't realize they were attacking the wrong team.

Stories of players heading to the ground of the bus and windows shattering would've defiantly scared the living daylights out of those on the bus, particularly given the fact they wouldn't have understood what was being said by the angry fans.

What is more shocking though is how this was allowed to happen.

I would've thought that the cricket world would've learned a lesson or two, especially after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore several years ago (click here for story).  At that time, armed gunmen with malicious intent shot at the team and caused several injuries to players.  A few civilians ad security personnel also lost their lives at that time.  This time, it was more a case of angry fans upset with their team, who probably didn't want to hurt anyone but just vent out their anger.

However, it raises the question that if someone wanted to attack the team bus, it was quite possible.  Also keep in mind it was during the last Cricket World Cup hosted in the West Indies where Bob Woolmer, the coach of Pakistan was murdered (which I was incidentally interviewed for by ESPN when I was in the West Indies - click here for the interview).  How was security so lax, especially considering this is a World Cup event?  What standards has the ICC set for host nations as far as protecting the players and their teams go?  

My picture as it appeared in the ESPN interview
during the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup
ICC Chief, Haroon Lorgat has talked down the incident much to the anger of the West Indies cricketers by saying a "few pebbles" were thrown and a "few arrests" were made.  He doesn't hold anyone accountable or say it is something that shouldn't have happened to begin with (click here for an audio interview he gave the BBC).

Whatever happens, let's hope the rest of the World Cup goes off without any incident.  It was supposed to be a tournament with four co-hosts and with Pakistan being dropped following those attacks against the Sri Lankan players in Lahore, let's hope cricket in the subcontinent stays vibrant and doesn't become a victim to poor planning and lax security.