The past three days have seen surreal activity on the streets of London and the malaise has spread to other parts of the UK including Birmingham, venue for the third Test of the India England series. But while the football friendly match has been called off for Wednesday, the Edgbaston Test is set to go ahead despite the riots that have overtaken the law and order in the UK.
What started out as one incident of violence turned into three nights of rioting, looting and arson in parts of London that has thereafter spread to the likes of Liverpool and Birmingham. The reason behind the widespread violence and UK riots has not yet be discerned with precision but the nature of riots has been contagious with the police unable or rather unwilling to intervene too aggressively. With the kind of arson and looting that has become violent and worrisome in the past three days, there was concern not only for the residents but also, for the touring Indian cricket team.
Although initially it seemed the problem was contained within London, the news that Birmingham was on the edge as well was reported yesterday two days prior to the crucial third Test of the series which England lead by 2-0. With players’ security paramount, the team management ensured that both teams stayed behind the closed doors of the hotel while suggesting that the players were not in immediate danger.
Both, the England Cricket Board ( ECB ) and the BCCI have not seen merit in deferring the tour or postponing the third Test by a day or two to let the violence and riots subside and for the law and order authorities to resume normalcy again. It will indeed be a security concern given that special arrangements would anyway have been made for the Test but now with the attention divided to manning the streets, it would seem a little bit of a tussle of how to ensure the security of an international sports event while also, ensuring that the streets are safe again.
With the hooliganism usually accompanying football matches, the precaution was taken by cancelling an England friendly match. But cricket seems to be dictated by the two boards who are intent for the series to go ahead, perhaps for commercially interests primarily as also scheduling concerns if the tour were indeed deferred to a later time. The boards obviously do not the deem the situation threatening enough to force a deferment which is a little bit of a contrasting reaction to the concerned voices of the Metropolitan police and the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, who have attributed the UK violence to a case of copy cat criminality where there are even teenagers, juveniles involved essentially, that have taken to reenacting the chaos in London to other parts of the city as well as other cities in the UK.
While the tour is set to go ahead at the prescribed date and time, undoubtedly both team managements will be glued to the developments before they leave for the ground tomorrow and in the run up to the final hours of the important third Test with England sighting the no.1 Test team title if they win the Test.