The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Keenan crackers a mild throwback to Karachi

Calcutta: Owing to the extraordinary happenings at the Keenan Wednesday, Mike Procter was at the stadium for well over an hour after the dramatic finish. On returning to The Regent, the Match Referee headed for the restaurant where, as it turned out, Sourav Ganguly was unwinding over a cup of tea.

“Captain, am I to expect this at the other centres as well'” Procter asked, distinctly relieved that the first one-dayer (at least) didn’t have to be abandoned for good. Smiling, Sourav reassured: “No Mike, don’t worry...”

[The six remaining India versus West Indies ODIs will be in Nagpur, Rajkot, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Jodhpur and Vijayawada.]

“Well, it’s definitely nice to hear that,” Procter responded, indicating that the deafening crackers had left him somewhat unnerved. Later, speaking to The Telegraph, Procter admitted his paranoia of sorts had much to do with his Karachi experience in May this year.

Procter, it may be recalled, was Match Referee when the New Zealanders aborted their tour of Pakistan after the murderous blast — triggered by a suicide bomber — just off the official hotel (Pearl Continental).

Though the terrorist’s target was the bus carrying French naval personnel, staying in the adjacent Sheraton, the explosion was so powerful that even the Pearl Continental suffered considerable damage — not to speak of the many injuries from shrapnel. The blast killed 15, including 12 Frenchmen.

As with the Pakistan and New Zealand teams, Procter was preparing to head for the National Stadium when the suicide bomber struck. “The explosion was... Even now, it’s difficult to describe... Never before had I heard anything quite like that... In fact, the window-panes of my room were blown to bits and the glass settled on the bed...

“As you can appreciate, it was an unusual experience... Similarly, it actually was a bit scary when all the crackers kept going off (at the Keenan)... Yes, that didn’t at all make me comfortable,” Procter, a former South African player, coach and selector, remarked.

However, full marks to Procter. Despite his own ‘paranoia’, he stood firm just beyond the boundary when the ODI resumed after that brief stoppage. He returned to his cabin only after the winning runs were smashed by Ramnaresh Sarwan.

The Bihar Cricket Association president, Amitabh Choudhary, is understood to have met Procter late Wednesday where, among other things, he apologised for the shameful incidents. It’s to be seen, though, to what extent Choudhary’s move will ‘soften’ Procter’s report to the ICC. The BCCI, in any case, has already taken a dim view.

Incidentally, till recently, Choudhary was himself Jamshedpur’s SP.

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