A passionate fan entering the field bypassing the security is nothing new in cricket and it does not mean the security as a whole is weak……
The ongoing Bangladesh-Zimbabwe series is perhaps one of the lesser cricketing contests in the calendar, while, arguably, it was during the India-England showdowns earlier this year when the excitement reached fever pitch.
Yet, across the landscapes of quality, pedigree and geography of the contests, the cricket fans remain largely the same.
A lot of hue and cry is being made about fans invading the Sylhet cricket pitch and hugging Bangladeshi cricketers at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium. With the venue making its debut as the newest Test centre in the cricketing world, combined with the preconceptions that prevail about the facilities in this part of the world, it is quite natural that the security breach incidents are grossly highlighted.
However, when we look back at the England-India series held just a few months earlier, we find that revellers had paraded across a rain-drenched Lord’s and used the wet covers for engaging in a juvenile slip and slide game during the opening day of the second Test match.
The spectators, two individuals sloshed with ample quantities of beer, had run through the barriers at Lord’s and dived on the covers, with baffled security men in confused pursuit. They had, of course, been promptly frogmarched away by the stewards, and ejected from the ground with a warning. But not before providing some excitement on an otherwise drab, action-less, rainy day.
Yes, that had happened at Lord’s, during a Test match earlier this year. Even as this very correspondent sat in the media centre, watching on.
While Sylhet is the newest Test venue, Lord’s, as we all know, is one of the oldest. And it used to be the headquarters of cricket, and even now is believed to be the spiritual home of the game.
Such things do take place. Because fans will always be fans.
Of course, things have come a long way from the times the invaders on to the Sydney pitch almost caused a riot during the 1878-79 English tour of Australia.
But be it the streakers through the 1970s and 1980s, the pig with ‘Botham’ and ‘Eddie’ written on its flanks during the 1982-83 Ashes at Brisbane, the Stop the Seventies Tour and other anti-apartheid demonstrators during the late 1960s or just plain over-excited fans inebriated with passion and liquids, invasions have always been quite common.
It has happened quite frequently in this century as well, across reputed venues around the world. Pakistani fans ran on to the pitch at Edgbaston in 2001, a streaker interrupted Australia’s match against Kent as recently as in 2015.
And then, in that most shocking of incidents, a 32-year-old man drove his car into the Air Force Sports Complex in Palam, Delhi, during a Ranji Trophy match while the likes of Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina and Rishabh Pant looked on in amazement.
Yes, fans breaking through the security layers and running on to the pitch is undesirable, even irritating on occasions. But it has been part and parcel of the game and takes place all over the world. It is an unwanted side-effect of a game that arouses every sort of passion and excitement among the masses.
The facilities, arrangement and the measures for security at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium are state of the art. And while intruders have indeed run onto the pitch, it would perhaps make sense to observe these incidents from the global perspective rather than indulging in knee-jerk reactions and raining undeserved brickbats.