Eerie si­lence af­ter ter­ror at­tack is clearly not cricket

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUN­GANI ZAMA

IN the af­ter­math of their vic­tory over Sri Lanka, the Proteas woke to a city reel­ing from a fresh wave of ter­ror at her door.

The prox­im­ity of it all – Vaux­hall is but a walk from The Oval, where the open­ing Group B match was – is enough to un­nerve the stead­i­est of hands.

The free world as we know it is no more, and one of the world’s great cities is on guard, wary of where the next tar­get may be.

South Africa’s crick­eters have been in the UK for barely a fort­night, but they’ve al­ready seen Manch­ester at­tacked, and now Lon­don.

It be­comes a very real fear when one con­sid­ers that some of the ar­eas tar­geted on Satur­day night were places where a player, fan or jour­nal­ist may have wan­dered for a drink or a nib­ble, per­haps af­ter tak­ing in the Champions League fi­nal that fol­lowed the cricket.

These are at­tacks that strike at the heart of the very free­dom and diver­sity that Lon­don prides it­self for. There is no free­dom when roads and train sta­tions are closed, when bod­ies are counted, and po­lice num­bers are dou­bled.

Yes­ter­day, the Proteas slipped out of the cap­i­tal, and made off for Birm­ing­ham, where they will play Pak­istan on Wed­nes­day.

Al­ready there was a stronger show of au­thor­ity and force around in­ter­na­tional teams and match venues, which was strength­ened fur­ther af­ter Manch­ester.

On the streets of Lon­don yes­ter­day, there was an eerie si­lence, a twitch in the air that wiped away the joy of an English sum­mer ar­riv­ing earnestly.

In this cli­mate, bats and balls be­come a sec­ondary con­sid­er­a­tion, as hearts wan­der home, and minds imag­ine the worst.

The Champions Tro­phy is barely a week old in its rein­car­na­tion, but it al­ready faces a tough test, one that they could never have seen com­ing. It is a tough break. This is sup­posed to be a cel­e­bra­tion, a fab­u­lous feast of runs, wick­ets and the won­drous skills that show­case the need for 50-over cricket to sur­vive and, dare we say it, thrive.

For the teams in­volved, it is ex­pected to be busi­ness as usual, but al­ready there was a be­calmed at­mos­phere at the nor­mally rau­cous clash of wills be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan.

Eng­land, lest we for­get, is a small is­land, and the re­ver­ber­a­tions of any in­ci­dent are felt na­tion­wide.

The UK gov­ern­ment main­tains that life must carry de­fi­antly on.

A trib­ute con­cert for the Manch­ester victims, went on last night at Old Traf­ford cricket ground, head­lined by Ari­anna Grande.

The elec­tions that are due to start this week are to carry on. And, so too will the cricket. The ICC have said they are mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion, and the Proteas are guided by their wis­dom, and they are cur­rently in Birm­ing­ham, away from the hot zone at this point.

It is a ter­ri­fy­ingly eerie place that these crick­eters cur­rently oc­cupy, far worse than any demons that may con­front them on the field of play. There, you know that there may be a goo­gly, a bouncer or a slower ball com­ing your way. You have an idea how to cope with it, be­cause your en­emy is fa­mil­iar.

South Africa and the rest will try to carry on as usual, but all eight teams – and every­one else fol­low­ing this tour­na­ment – know that they are also play­ing an un­seen foe, one who strikes with­out warn­ing, and with­out any rea­son ex­cept to cause the havoc and para­noia that cur­rently throt­tles Lon­don and the rest of the UK.

That is a shud­der­ing thought, and one ev­ery player must live with for the next fort­night, long af­ter they have bowled or swat­ted a bound­ary. They are play­ing as they look over their shoul­ders, and that was never on their to-do list when they ar­rived. Adapt­ing to con­di­tions, JP Du­miny,

pic­tured, said re­cently, was key to sur­viv­ing this fre­netic tour­na­ment. But these con­di­tions are just some­thing else.

It’s just not cricket.

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