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When TV programmers plan debates about playing cricket with Pakistan and want an oddball sort with a contrary view Im the man they call The reason for this is quite simple for years and years Ive been almost the only person who opposes playing cricket with Pakistan and can speak correct English It is always instructive that when I decline the invitation my place on the programme is nearly always taken by some venomous Shiv Sena midget or a sangh parivar-type in saffron robes Sadly the debate about cricket with Pakistan has usually been conducted as a battle between English-speaking liberals aggressively pro and hardcore Hindutva types Play cricket Hell no Why dont we just bomb them all instead The liberals have broadly taken the sport-has-nothing-to-do-with politics line which ironically was first popularised by lots of dodgy apartheid-loving blonde South Africans after their country was booted out of every sports tournament Those on the other side however have rather destroyed their own case by rejecting logic and concentrating instead on demonising Pakistan And whenever theyve lost the argument theyve done something silly like digging up the pitch to demonstrate that they are bad losers My view has been based on consistency and precedent For many many years we refused to play sport with South Africa because we disapproved of apartheid We refused also to even play tennis with Israel because we thought that it was being unfair to the Palestinians Nor were we alone in taking such stands In 1990 the US boycotted the Moscow Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan And no cricket-playing nation would play South Africa So it is a little late in the day to say that politics and sport shouldnt mix They always have Moreover there is evidence to suggest that the boycotts worked Take South Africa It is now almost universally accepted that one of the things that convinced the
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