Joe Hendren

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tsunami aid cricket match and India Pakistan relations

Just finished watching the Tsunami aid cricket match. The Asian XI and the Rest of the World sides succeeded in raising over 14.5 million Australian dollars, a brilliant effort.

But the cricket match was a success in other ways too. In India and Sri Lanka, cricket is not only the national sport; it is a secular religion. As Brian Lara commented a couple of days ago - the shared love of cricket made this match good for the "psyche" of the people of the flood ravaged regions. I will not be surprised if we see television pictures of people in makeshift accommodation listening to the game on the radio. It will provide hope and make people happy.

The sight of Indian and Pakistani players playing in the same side is a diplomatic breakthrough in itself, as cricketing relations have long been affected by tensions between the two countries over the disputed region of Kashmir. A few short years ago some feared this conflict would escalate into a nuclear exchange.

Pakistan last toured India in 1999 only to have the Indian government place a ban on bilateral series soon after. India made its first full tour of Pakistan in 15 years only last year. So in another bit of great news, the Indian cricket board have announced that Pakistan are to tour India from February 25.

One of my long standing travel ambitions is to go to an international cricket game in India. Supporting a kiwi team over there would be great, but so would seeing a match between India and Pakistan. As well as being a great game between two good sides, it would also be a symbol of peace.

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The autographed shirts worn by the players are being auctioned on Ebay. The shirts for Australian players are currently going for the most, including an incredible bid of 10 million for a bit of cloth with Shane Warne's sweat on it. At the time of posting Chris Cairns' shirt was fetching $7100, Vettori's $5100, and Fleming's $4100. All money to a good cause.

Span tongue in cheekily criticises the Rest of the World team for making too many runs. I suspect a batting lineup that included Ponting, Lara, Gillchrist and Cairns probably made this inevitable. Its a real shame Sachin Tendulkar could not bat, due to an injury. If Tendulkar had got going he could have given the Rest of the World's 344 a run for its money (unintentional pun - honest!)

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