Monday, July 27, 2009

Why Shane should wait

There are few bowlers wore exciting than Shane Bond. The Cantabrian will never be one of cricket's leading wicket-takers: since the beginning of his career his body has struggled to cope with the demands that he makes of it, and demolitions of world-class batting line-ups have been interspersed with long spells in hospital wards and on physiotherapists' benches. But Bond is compelling in a way that more robust fast bowling legends like Michael Holding or Dennis Lillee never were: watching him lope deceptively toward the crease, windup, uncoil, and float an invisible ball toward the batsman at a speed of one one hundred and fifty kilometres an hour, we know we might be watching the very last over that the man ever bowls. Bond's fragility makes us constantly aware of his genius.

It's easy to understand, then, why Kiwi cricket fans have been so frustrated by the way that a feud between Indian businessmen has kept Bond out of contention for our national side for the last couple of years. A player of Bond's class and delicacy should not have been confined to the Indian Premier League and New Zealand domestic cricket because of arcane contractual disputes.

Now Bond has walked away from the IPL, and Black Caps Fans are rejoicing. I'm very pleased that the man will be playing for New Zealand again, but I won't be watching him make his comeback on the forthcoming tour of Sri Lanka. It may be hard for some of us to realise at times, but there are more important things than cricket. My friend Dhaya - a cricket-lover himself - explains what is really important in this letter, which is published in the latest issue of the National Distribution Union's paper Union News.

New Zealand Tamils are calling for the Black Caps tour to Sri Lanka that has been scheduled for August to be called off on the grounds that the Sri Lankan government has committed serious human rights violations and war crimes over the past few months.

Most of us know Sri Lanka for the 'Ceylon tea' and the Sri Lankan cricket team but many of us are not aware of the political situation and humanitarian crisis in the country. The majority Sinhalese government has discriminated against Tamils in Sri Lanka since independence from the British. Tamil politicians tried unsuccessfully to gain equal rights by democratic means before the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam took up an armed struggle over the last thirty years.

Recently the Sri Lankan government has claimed that it has defeated the Tigers. In their final battle, the Sri Lankan forces killed between 20,000 and 50,000 Tamil civilians. These claims cannot be verified as the Sri Lankan government has banned all non-governmental organisations and media from the conflict zones to hide their atrocities.

Currently there are about 300,000 Tamils being kept against their will in camps run by the military. Reports of torture, rapes, and killing have leaked out of the camps. Calls by many coutnries including New Zealand to permit aid amd media to enter the camps have been ignored by the Sri Lankan government. Yet the New Zealand government has remained silent about this tour and the New Zealand Cricket Board has stated that unless the New Zealand government instructs them not to go on the tour they will have to go ahead.


After reading Dhaya's words, and meeting some of the Auckland-based Tamils who have had family members caught up in the chaos in their homeland, I lost my enthusiasm to see Shane Bond back in action in August. If the price of his return is the endorsement of a regime which has committed massive human rights abuses, then Shane should wait a few months.


Blogger P.Dhayaharan said...

Thanks for writing about this on your blog.

It is a shame that the New Zealand cricket is going over to Sri Lanka to play cricket at this time. I wish New Zealanders in general do get to know about what’s happening in Sri Lanka. As I am sure if general New Zealand public had known about the situation in Sri Lanka, they would have all called for a boycott.

5:17 pm  
Anonymous Stu Colquhoun said...

Most sports mad Kiwis would make the argument that politics should not interfere with sport but this lame. The issue is about human rights, and human rights will always be more important than sport.
I would challenge anyone who believes that the Black Caps should tour Sri Lanka with the question, "Would you play a game of backyard cricket if the host was a murderer or rapist?

8:12 pm  
Blogger Marty Mars said...

He should wait. We hear of 1300 people dying a week which puts our 1300 becoming unemployed a week into perspective.

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Blogger ejh said...

But sporting boycotts need to be more sparingly used: if you call for them in circumstances such as these you will always be calling for them and you will never do so successfully.

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