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Who will be cricket's first martyr?
by Gulu Ezekiel
May 26, 2007
The score-card at the end of the first day of the second Test between India and Bangladesh at Mirpur on Friday had an unusual look to it.It reads 326 for no loss though batsmen numbers three and four were at the crease at stumps. It’s almost certain that both opening batsmen have never been forced to retire hurt on the opening day of a Test match. That Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer did so due to heat exhaustion and cramps after being involved in a stand worth 175 (still unbroken) is an indication of the inhuman conditions the match is being played in.

It is almost suicidal to play cricket in the month of May in Asia, particularly in Bangladesh as this is the monsoon season. That means not only is rain inevitable--the third ODI and over two days of the first Test were washed out--but also the humidity levels are unbearable. Remember, the temperatures out in the field in the middle of a massive concrete stadium is considerably more than it is in the stands.

The ICC has expressed helplessness as it is only responsible for the FTP (Future Tour Programme). Any matches arranged between two boards over and above this programme is apparently out of the ICC purview. No doubt cricket chiefs around the world are wringing their hands in desperation as there are only 12 months in the year!

The question then arises: if a player dies due to heat exhaustion during the course of a match, who will be responsible, the ICC or the individual board? Believe me, this is not some morbid fantasy. It is bound to happen sooner rather than later.

Just imagine the plight of the players who will be participating in the bogus Afro-Asian Cup games in Chennai in June, an idiotic brainchild of the ICC. No wonder the likes of Rahul Dravid and Chaminda Vaas have already announced their unavailability. At least these are day/night games, but anyone who has survived June in Chennai will know what a nightmare it can be. If it were not for snow in winter, the BCCI by now would be plotting another meaningless ODI series in the UK in November-December!

Dravid was being unusually frank on the eve of the Mirpur Test when he hit out at the packed schedule the Indian team will be put through this year. The BCCI in its usual unthinking manner promptly dismissed his misgivings. Pace bowlers in particular have been breaking down at an alarming rate. Already Munaf Patel and S. Sreesanth have been sent back from Bangladesh with muscle problems while England are without the unfit Andrew Flintoff for the second Test at Leeds.

Do we need to have another cricket tragedy on our hands before the authorities wake up to the menace they have inflicted on all of us? Sadly, that looks like the only way out.

Wonder who will be international cricket’s first martyr? The thought is terrifying.
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