Cricket match affected: War, terrorism, assassination, vandalism and crowd riot
Before cricket became a medium of commerce, it was a medium for many countries to show the world their supremacy. West Indies used to do in the year between I950 and 1980, Australia and England are still vying in the Ashes. At the same time, India v Pakistan series sandwiched between the political tension of countries.
Cricket being a popular game in many erstwhile English colonies has seen the frustration of fans, who vandalized the stadium and disrupt the game. We know the incident like 1996 world cup semi final where Indian fans in the Eden Gardens were throwing bottles in the ground as India had been losing the game. Umpires were forced to hand victory to Sri Lanka. Similarly, there were many incidents when in a game umpires either abandoned the match or suspended day’s play. Political upheaval, terrorist attack, and even rioting crowd interrupted the game and even forced umpire to abandon the game.
Here I am drawing 10 matches and series from the page of history which affected due to non-cricketing reasons.
1) West Indies in England, 1939
The outbreak of the Second World War saw the last seven matches of the tour cancelled, with the West Indies’ party boarding a boat in Scotland to sail back to the Caribbean.
2) England in West Indies, 1961
West Indies islands were angry over any English things. They don’t like English players as well. In 1961, Enngland were touring West Indies for the Wisden Test series. Cricket was a big thing in West Indies that time. They used to find solace in cricket. 30,000 crowd at Queens Park Oval, Port of Spain, a record for any sporting event in the West Indies, inflamed as their batsmen were collapsing like a pack of cards. The situation was tense. West Indies lost their 5 wickets in 45 runs. Gerry Alexander and Sonny Ramadhin showed some resistance before Alfred Trueman ended their resistance. The Angry crowd were abusing West Indies batting. Soon after tea, the umpire raised his finger to give CK Singh run out. But, the furious crowd was not convinced. CK also denied leaving the crease. The temper boiled over and a few hooligans began throwing bottles onto the outfield. The situation turned into a riot. The England players were escorted from the field though no animosity was shown to them. Due to the chaos the third day’s play was suspended. Bottles were also thrown at Georgetown on the previous MCC tour six years ago, but on that occasion the match was resumed after a short delay. During the match players on both sides were told to play their parts avoiding incidents by accepting umpiring decisions without quibble and by walking immediately they were given out.
3) India in Pakistan, 1983
India were touring Pakistan for a six match Test series. Pakistan won the series by 3-0 margin. But, the final Test at Karachi was marred by violence. India v Pakistan series has huge crowd following as political tension between these two countries made their cricketing rivalry tense. But, crowd demonstrations, thought to have been promted by students protesting against arrests made at a University campus brawl, and high scores made in a typical Karachi Test. The fourth day’s play had to be abandoned after lunch, because of the rioting.
4) New Zealand in Sri Lanka, 1986 – 1987
The hastily arranged tour comprising three Tests and four One Day internationals was called off during the first Test after a car bomb exploded near the New Zealand team hotel in Colombo, killing many people. It was believed that Tamil terror organization L.T.T.E was behind the bomb blast. Sri Lanka government finally eradicated the terrorism in 2009.
5) India in Pakistan, 1984-85
The assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, led to 13 days of national mourning as a result the remaining three matches of the tour was cancelled. India were getting ready to play the third Test of the series in National Stadium, Karachi. But, the unfortunate news prompted India to cancel the series.
6) England in Pakistan, 1968-69
Political and student unrest dogged the tour throughout, but it seemed the series would be played to a finish when the teams arrived in Karachi for the third and final Test. However, a riot on the third morning saw the match abandoned and the series tied at 0-0 when England’s Alan Knott was 96 not out — four short of what would have been his maiden Test century.
7) New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan, 2002
The tour was originally scheduled to take place in September 2001 but was called off for security reasons after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States of America. Instead, New Zealand toured Pakistan in April 2002 for three ODIs and two Tests. A bomb blast outside the New Zealand team hotel shortly before the start of the second Test in Karachi immediately cut short the tour. It was also the last time New Zealand toured Pakistan.
8) South Africa in Sri Lanka, 2006, the Trie series
South Africa were in Sri Lanka for two Tests, and India were supposed to join the two teams for an ODI tri-series. But a bomb exploded outside the South African team hotel before the start of the tri-series, following which, after two days of deliberation, South Africa eventually decided to pull out. India stayed on to play a three-match bilateral ODI series, which eventually couldn’t get underway due to excessive rains.
9) Sri Lanka in Pakistan, in Lahore, in 2008-09
Sri Lanka were travelling on their team bus on the way to the second Test in Lahore when terrorists opened fire, injuring six members of the Lankan tour party. Sri Lanka went home and no major international matches have since taken place in Pakistan because of security fears.
10) Australia v England, Leeds, in 1975
Australia were touring England for a four-match series. They won it by 1-0. But, they could make it 2 if the unfortunate incident could not happen.
August 19, 1975. Australia needed 225 to win on the final day with seven wickets remaining. And the spectators were robbed of a promising thriller when a group of vandals dug holes on the wicket and poured oil on the pitch. Abandoned as a draw after vandals had sabotaged the pitch in the early hours of Tuesday – the fifth day. The perpetrators got under the covers at the pavilion end and dug out holes with knives near the popping crease and poured a gallon of crude oil in the region where a good length ball would have pitched.