C for cricket, C for Chennai
Chennai, a city that is very hot this time of the year, has the second longest beach on the entire planet, some beautiful temples and a lot more. But it is not the beach that I’m concerned about; it is about the M.A. Chidambaram stadium. It is a stadium where people come out to watch good cricket just like any other venue. Harsha Bhogle, during the 1st Test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy, yet again pointed out what a knowledgeable and loyal crowd Chepauk had, not to mention that it is one that also respects the efforts of the opposition.
There are protests going on in the city. Political agitation has ruled out the possibility of Sri Lankan players competing for all IPL teams in the city of Chennai. People were quick to judge and they all seem to want to write off this wonderful stadium with a wonderful crowd as a venue. It is a fact that it’s not the cricket enthusiast but political radicals the local government is worried about. It has taken a decision to rule Sri Lanakan players out merely for their safety. Cricket fans have nothing to do with this. It is harsh the way that people want the matches in Chennai to be moved to other venues.
One can take into consideration the first semi-final of the 1996 world cup at Calcutta (Now Kolkata). Sri Lanka played brilliantly after a disastrous first over to achieve a good total of 251. India started badly but was in a good position when they collapsed, losing 7 wickets for 22 ending up from 101 for 4 to 120 for 8. Enraged by this, some home supporters threw bottles on to the outfield and set fire to the seating. Referee Clive Lloyd took the teams off for 15 minutes, attempted a restart and then awarded Sri Lanka the game by default. But the headlines were devoted to the riot which ended the match. I do not recall the Chennai crowd doing anything mischievous like this.
This ban of Lankan players is a precautionary action to protect the players from political radicals and not from cricket fans. Kolkata has hosted several matches after that and nobody seems to complain. There is always a possibility of players or staff being harmed in a venue. But it is just not fair to ask the matches to be shifted from a stadium that has a very loyal crowd to support and it is a silly claim that Chennai has an advantage in home games. The Super kings have Lankan players and must do without them in home games. Well, for other teams and team owners to say that may just indicate that some teams depend largely on a single individual than a sum of individuals. It is just not right to deny cricket lovers from Chennai their share of cricketainment.