I’m starting to sound obsessed with Samir Chopra, but I can’t help responding to yet another of his posts. This one has to do with Lalit Modi’s haughty response to those foreign players who worry about the tournament’s securty.
Now, Chopra and I share a particular distaste for Modi, but he gives him a pass on this issue. I won’t. Look, I agree that we need to live with the ever-persistent threat of terror these days. And, as I’ve said before, it annoys me that players are willing to play in England — where the threats are as real as anywhere else — without a fuss, but not South Asia.
But I have two qualms: first, Modi has been profoundly undiplomatic during this entire episode (and calling him ‘undiplomatic’ is a very diplomatic way of putting it). Take this little bit from Cricinfo:
So far the IPL has rejected dealing with players’ associations, a move which forced unions from Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa to commission their own safety report on the situation in India. Reg Dickason, who has worked as a security advisor for the England and Australia teams, delivered his findings to the associations at the weekend and Marsh outlined the details to most of the 22 Australian players signed up for the tournament.
Why reject dealing with players’ associations? And then, why simply offer an ultimatum to foreign players, which essentially boils down to, Your money or your life? Again, I realize Indian — and especially Bombay — residents will say they live with terror every day, but that’s hardly a comfort to an Australian, or even a Sri Lankan, who recalls the very real threat faced in Pakistan when a cricket team was attacked.
That brings me to my second qualm: Modi’s cocksure attitude leaves him absolutely no wiggle room if — and this is a horrible if — something awful happens during the IPL. Again, God forbid and all that, but if a single incident breaks out and a cricketer is injured during the tournament, that could deal a serious blow. (Because foreign players will then turn around and say, ‘See! We told you!’ Had Modi been a little under the radar about this, and said, ‘We’ll do what we can to accommodate their concerns, etc. etc.’ that may have tempered tensions.)