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Cricket in the USA: watching and being watched

In the strangest and most distressing cricket story of the summer, it appears that New York police have compiled lists of the city’s cricket grounds, along with cafes and restaurants where people gather to watch international cricket on TV, in order to facilitate surveillance of the Muslim population. Some years back I was passing through… Read more

Obama abroad

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 29 May When it came to foreign affairs, Barack Obama’s first presidential task was a simple one. He had to be better than his predecessor. For this alone, it seems, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. But those who hoped Obama’s promise of “change” would apply to the US’s… Read more

Disgrace: Pakistan cricket and its discontents

Outlook (India), 6 September On top of floods, war, bombs, a corrupt and incompetent government with a much feared military in the wings, the long-suffering people of Pakistan have now been betrayed, once again, by their cricketers. Most will not be shocked or will profess not to be shocked: over the last 15 years there… Read more

Life-changing happenstance: discovering India

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 25 January 2009 will be marked by the usual crop of anniversaries. Twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, 200 hundred years since the death of Tom Paine, forty years since Woodstock, and on a micro-scale, thirty years since my first visit to India. A life-changing event for… Read more

Afghanistan: Crimes of the New Century

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 28 December There is one sad, near certainty about 2009: the war in Afghanistan will grow bloodier, more brutal and more dangerous to the region as a whole. Barack Obama has coupled his pledge to withdraw US troops from Iraq (a pledge already heavily qualified) with an insistence on escalating… Read more

Military and mullah

The Guardian, 25 July General Pervez Musharraf has expressed irritation at the “aspersions” cast on Pakistan in the British media. After his extensive efforts to prove his loyalty to the US-British “war on terror” – efforts which have exposed him to assassination attempts – the General’s frustration is understandable. The alleged Pakistani links of the… Read more

The compelling rhythms of India-Pakistan cricket

The Hindu, 16 April, 2004 The India-Pakistan series has been nearly everything a committed neutral could ask for. There have been no dead matches and no inflammatory incidents. For the most part, the contest has been closely fought and unpredictable, enriched by a succession of gritty individual performances. In the Test matches we’ve been able to savour… Read more

Kites and kebabs

India Today – ITPlus, March 2004 I’m grateful to cricket for many things, and one of them is that it got me to Pakistan – with its sufi shrines and elaborately painted trucks, its virtuoso kite flyers and zesty kebabs. The most rewarding travelling combines the purposeful and the aimless. Following a cricket tour in… Read more

War minus the shooting

India’s first cricket tour of Pakistan in 15 years brings political opportunity and danger in equal measure The Guardian, 10 March, 2004 India’s superstar cricketers – among the country’s most famous faces – will today visit Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at his Delhi residence, to receive his official blessing before boarding a chartered flight… Read more

Merchants of Death

Socialist Review, July 2002 We are being told that we can breathe a sigh of relief. India and Pakistan, it seems, have stepped back from the brink of the worst human catastrophe since the Second World War. As so often in the past, people around the planet are being assured that they can ‘learn to… Read more