Sports Letters: Fashionable prejudice

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Sir: Your leading article 'England in stubble' identifies the reason why cricketing relations between England and the subcontinent are and have been at a low ebb for the past two decades - although I am not sure that it was what it intended to do.

English players for generations have been complaining about the heat, dust, food, pollution, travel and last, but by no means least, the umpires; in fact, it was deemed only fashionable to do so, and to be honest it was the media which encouraged the trend. An English player only had to make a complaint for the entire media retinue to hop on board in sympathy. Thus very few English players have ever been out lbw or caught behind in the subcontinent; they have almost always been 'adjudged' lbw or caught behind. All an England player has to do is to look horrified at an umpiring decision and he is guaranteed a media reprieve for the next morning - the decision is bound to be dubbed 'dubious'.

Part of this is due to the fact that over the years a close relation has developed between some of the players and a few cricket scribes and this relation becomes even closer when England are touring lands with different cultures where opportunities for mixing with the hosts are few.

The only reason that the old attitudes looked so out of place this time in India was the wide margin of England's defeat. Perhaps the trick is to take a cricket tour not just as an assignment but as what it is - a tour. All swimming pools and five star hotels are the same all over the world and a tourist - even if he is a professional cricketer - should be able to taste the charms of a country beyond the hotels and its swimming pools.

What befuddles a lot of people in the subcontinent is that when the place had no electricity, running water, air-conditioning, phones or antibiotics and was plagued by typhoid, cholera, malaria and smallpox, it was the jewel in the crown. Now with all these amenities and most of these dreadful diseases under control, it has to be somehow suffered, even for a brief period of a couple of months.


Editor, The Daily Jang