Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cricket banned from India's Marina Beach

Indian authorities have banned cricket on Marina Beach, known for fostering the talent of former national captains, in a move that has resulted in riot police being drafted in to enforce the rules.

Officials in Madras have outlawed cricket on the beach, one of the longest in the world, to make the city more attractive to tourists as part of a "beautification project". Signs in Tamil and English have been erected informing locals that "Playing of cricket is banned at Marina".
According to The Times Of India, the ban happened after a cricket ball hit a man who was out on a walk with his wife and daughter. When he took up the issue, it culminated with the government issuing the new rules.

But the beach along the Bay of Bengal has a long tradition of cricket, with former India captains Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Kris Srikkanth taking part in tournaments there before moving on to bigger things. More than 200 teams play on the 1.9 mile stretch of sand every Sunday according to police.

The move has sparked protests in a country where cricket is the national sport. Troops from the Central Reserve Police Force, usually used to tackle riots and subdue separatist rebels, were sent to Marina to enforce the ban, according to the deputy police commissioner.
Beach hawkers who serve snacks and drinks to players have also complained that their takings have dropped significantly.

One parent told a television station: "Our youngsters are passionate about playing cricket. And what is wrong with that? Is it not a thousand times better than, say, eve-teasing [molesting women] or pick-pocketing?"

Raja, 13, told The Times: "We get told it is a good thing to play cricket because it keeps us out of mischief.

"But then we aren't given good equipment, or pitches."

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