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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London on Fire - is the bridge falling down - Birmingham and Test at Edgbaston

India play England in the Third test at Edgbaston today – after battered in the first two, this bowler-friendly venue is perhaps not the right place as history is also against the tourists.  In the 5 matches played here earlier, Indians have lost 4

But more than the game, England is in bad shape – arson, rioting and damage to public property is not good for any body.  This photo of ‘The Sun’ describes it all – a terrified woman leaps from the  first floor of a burning block of flats into the arms of cops as a third night of rioting spread across London.  She fortunately was saved but in many places, the Police struggled to cope with the escalating crisis.  The newspaper reports that large areas of the capital burned as mindless thugs fought pitched battles with police, with violence spreading to West London also.

“London Bridge Is Falling Down" is a well-known traditional nursery rhyme  - the meaning and intention may be uncertain; perhaps ponders over the many difficulties in bridging the river Thames. There is also a theory that the song refers to the ‘burying alive’ of children in the foundations of the bridge at the time of its building.   Whatever happened to the bridge, London is burning – there has been widespread rioting, looting, arson attacks, burglary, robbery and public disturbance in some cities and towns in England.  It all began on 6th Aug 2011 in Tottenham, North London – reportedly as a fallout of the fatal shooting of a 29 year old Mark Duggan by the Metropolitan Police Service.  Some hundreds of people marched in Tottehham which turned violent and became riots.  Some more incidents were to follow in other areas and vandalism slowly became the order of the day or rather the night.  In what could be termed as a soft measure, after more than 500 stand arrested, the Metropolitan Police announced their willingness to use baton rounds against rioters should there be another night of violence on 9 August 2011.  In view of the impending crisis, the Prime Minister David Cameron, the Home Secretary Theresa May, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband have  cut short their holidays and are returning to London and a debate is scheduled in the Parliament on 11th August on the situation.   
Sony Warehouse at Enfield on fire 
The burning fire and unrest represents the poor relations the Nation with its black community in many places including Birmingham.  There could be many factors including high poverty, growing gap between rich and poor, unemployment, lower social mobility,  growing civil unrest and worsening public belief in the system.  After the shootout of Mark Duggan, the incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which reportedly has been the  standard practice whenever a member of the public dies as a result of police action.   There are reports that Police were trying to arrest Duggan investigating the gun crimes in London and in combating illegal drug trade.   There are wide and varied opinions suggesting the possible contributory factors to the current rest as : fatal shooting, local tensions, higy unemployment and cuts, economic crisis, poverty to criminal opportunism, simple looting for economic gains and more.   The Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police force is reported to have characterised the behaviour of rioters in Birmingham as being motivated by greed, not anger.

Warwickshire County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure; its home is Edgbaston Cricket Ground.  Not many have heard of Brummie - a colloquial term for the inhabitants, accent and dialect of Birmingham, England, as well as being a general adjective used to denote a connection with the city, locally called Brum. Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands county of England. It is the most populous British city outside London. A medium-sized market town during the medieval period, Birmingham grew to international prominence in the 18th century at the heart of the Midlands Enlightenment and subsequent Industrial Revolution.  Today Birmingham is a major international commercial centre.  It possesses three universities and two university colleges make it the largest centre of higher education in the United Kingdom outside London.  Edgbaston is an area in the city of Birmingham in England. Edgbaston traditionally has a reputation for being one of the most highend, upmarket and/or affluent parts of Birmingham and here lies the famous Edgbaston Cricket Ground, home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club where Indians are to play England in the Third test of the present series.  Indians have never won a test here in their 5 earlier outings and with the present form the injury ridden tourists have little chance to come back strongly in the series. 

This is a historic ground in existence for over a century.  Edgbaston's first test match was the first in the The Ashes series against Australia in 1902.  The conditions outside are not exactly congenial to a Test match but the ECB says that the match will go on as scheduled.  The Indian team  Anirudh Chaudhary stated that the touring squad is safe and are looking forward to the start of the play today.  Strauss said that ti was for authorities to decide whether or not it's right for the game to go ahead and we are focussing and preparing as we normally would.  The Indian players were advised not to go out for dinner and shopping.   The English team in  Hyatt Hotel in central Birmingham near where violence broke out.  There was violence and looting and there are reports of  snatching mobile phones and handbags from pedestrians, followed by kicking, punching, breaking windows of shopping centres, banks, pubs, restaurants, forcing people to shut down these establishments. The Marriott hotel, where the Indians are staying, is located on Hagley road on Five Ways  , one of the major junctions in central Birmingham but slightly outside the city centre. Edgbaston is about a seven-minute drive from their hotel. 

At a time when England is turmoil, Sunil Gavaskar rightly remarked in ‘The Sun’ that England would panic if similar riots had happened in India.  Perfect words from the little Master as one can easily how the English Team reacted to 26/11 incident in Mumbai.  On or off the field, English Team behaves differently – at the same time wanting the Indians to behave in the manner desired by them………


Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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