Tuesday 3 March 2009

Love amongst the ruins

It feels like more than 24 hours since England and West Indies walked off the field, laughing and joking with each other in the Barbados sun, but that's all it is.

At first it seemed like an incredible, boy's own escape: rocket launchers fired and missed; a grenade rolled under the bus that failed to explode; some players with shrapnel wounds but safe in their dressing room; even the irrepressible Dominic Cork somehow at the centre of it all, on the phone to the BBC.

Then the pictures of the policemen dead in the road; the news that their families would have to face; Chris Broad giving an interview covered in the blood of a fellow umpire, explaining how he'd seen their driver shot dead in front of them. Brave men had given up their lives.

It wasn't an escape after all. At the Flyslip, Damith said, 'It felt like someone I knew was in the middle of this. We live the game, so much so that the players are like part of our family', and he's right. They become so familiar, we feel as if we know them (is their a single England fan who, at the moment, doesn't feel like he's spent a few days in the pub with the estimable Ronnie Sarwan?).

Cricket lovers in cricket-crazy Pakistan have the feeling too. It seems important to recognise that, because the fundamental principal of the game is that everyone can play. That will inevitably and necessarily be mitigated by the dangers inherent in Pakistan, but it is not merely their problem. Australia stayed in England after the 7-7 attacks in 2005. England returned to India after Mumbai. The reason was a principal: that this is a conflict not between nations but between ideologies. It has no geographical boundaries. We stand against it together. That principal must hold for the weakest as well as the strongest. Pakistan might not host cricket, but they can and should play cricket. In a comment over at Nesta's blog, Tooting Trumpet wrote: 'our best defence is to inculcate an understanding of the value of human life' and that's true. It might be generations away, but it can start, and it can start with cricket.

I've not been blogging long, but it was the first place I went, because community is there. No-one had escaped what had happened, because, in varying degrees, it happened to us all. From here, it feels like we can start.

No comments: