HomeTeamsIndiaIndian Chaos: Tragedy of Indira Gandhi’s Assassination Happened in 1984
Indian Chaos: Tragedy of Indira Gandhi’s Assassination Happened in 1984
Indian chaos and the tragedy of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s assassination happened just before England left for India and arrived in Sri Lanka until the dust settled. To travel, hopefully, is a better thing than to arrive. R.L. Stevenson’s words must have passed through the minds of some of the more literary-minded of England’s touring cricketers as they were submerged in the chaos that followed the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi only a few hours after they arrived in Delhi in the early morning of October 31st, 1984. In fact, the murder of Indira Gandhi was a big incident in Indian history.
The England team was confined to their large, comfortable modern hotel, the Taj Palace, for five days while gangs of Hindus took brutal revenge on innocent Sikhs for the murder of Mrs. Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards. The first two scheduled matches of the tour, at Jaipur and Jammu (a game already under threat because of political unrest in the area), were canceled.
A temporary lifeline was offered by the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, whose President, Gamini Dissanayake, had made many English friends during the Sri Lankan tour of England last summer. A government minister, Gamini Dissenayeke, was one of his country’s official parties at the State Funeral of Indira Gandhi, and he arranged for the England party to travel to Colombo for an open-ended visit, starting with net practice and a three-day match against his own eleven, beginning on November 7th.
The main concern of England’s manager, Tony Brown, acquitting himself with a fine mixture of diplomacy and firmness on his first overseas assignment, was to ensure that if and when the Test series in India began, the England team would be reasonably prepared for it. Originally, a four-test series was agreed upon in a temporary manner; however, the Indian Board eventually altered this to include five examinations.
The new agreed itinerary is Nov 13–15: President’s XI, Jaipur; 17–19: Indian Under-25, Ahmedabad; 21–24: West Zone, Rajkot; 28-Dec 3: FIRST TEST, BOMBAY, rest day 30th; 5: First One-Day International, Poona; 7-9: North Christopher Martin-Jenkins Zone, Mohanagar (Delhi); 12-17: SECOND TEST, Delhi, rest day 15th; 19-22: East Zone, Gauhati, 26-31: THIRD TEST, Calcutta-rest day 28th; Jan 2: Bangladesh XI, Dacca; 5: 2nd One-Day International, Cuttack; 7-10: South Zone, Hyderabad; 13-18: FOURTH TEST, Madras-rest day 16th; 20: 3rd One-Day International, Bangalore; 23: 4th One-Day International, Nagpur; 25 or 27: 5th One-Day International, Chandigarh; 31-Feb 5: FIFTH TEST, Kanpur; 7: Day/night Charity match, Delhi.
The amazing real-life farce of the One-Day International that wasn’t between India and Australia at Jamshedpur in October confirms our original opinion that the delegates to the International Cricket Conference at Lord’s last July made a hasty, if not an ill-considered, decision when they chose to stage the next World Cup in India and Pakistan in October and November 1987.
The match at Jamshedpur was delayed because the truck bringing the kit of the Australian team from their previous match was held up in traffic 40 miles from the ground at the time when the game was due to start. When it did arrive, the match, reduced to 24 overs per side, was ruined by rain. One of the other four matches on the short tour was also abandoned due to bad weather, a fact that is hardly surprising since October is a month when monsoon winds can still play havoc with cricket. The principle of holding the World Cup in India is sound enough.
Only Australia can match their crowds in size, and only the West Indies can match their enthusiasm. As highly successful as the first three World Cups were, sponsored by Prudential and held in England in 1975, 1979, and 1983,. However, there is an obvious case for holding a world tournament in a different country each time, just as the Olympics are not always held in Athens. But it is not too late to reconsider the time and place for the next tournament. The timing comes first. Cricket matches in the sub-continent are seldom troubled by rain after November.
Hence, it may mean postponing whatever Australian promotions are planned for that season; November is the very earliest date that the tournament should start. Nor are we happy that, because of the early twilight in India and Pakistan, the matches are to be played, when necessary, over two days.
One-day cricket over two days sounds more Irish than Indian. One of the great theoretical attractions of limited-overs cricket is that a result can be achieved within a single day, with spectators getting the chance to see the start and finish of a match and both sides doing a roughly equal amount of batting and bowling. The prospect in India in 1987 is of too many matches ending as they often do in the early season in the Benson and Hedges Cup in Britain—an anti-climax on the second day rather than a climax on the first. What about the logistics? Travel on the subcontinent is seldom straightforward. Distances are vast, bureaucracy formidable, and the number of people forever on the move immense.
It will take a great deal of organization for a competition involving eight teams spread not just over India but over Pakistan too to run smoothly. If Indian or Pakistani readers should think we are being unduly pessimistic, may we quote Mr. J. J. Irani, president of the Jamshedpur Cricket Association: ‘How can a country that cannot transport the baggage of cricketers from one town to another stage the World Cup 1987?”
The answer is that it cannot be done without a great deal of meticulous planning, and a much more detailed explanation of those plans at the next meeting of the ICC is essential. If by then some of the questions posed above have not received satisfactory answers, the delegates of all the test countries, India and Pakistan included, should not be too proud to think again.