It is accepted that professional sport is an exercise in escapism — grown men obsessing with something that children do for fun. But when this is taken in the literal sense, it poses a serious problem for administrators.
<b1>At a qualifying tournament for the under-19 World Cup in Toronto, last September, several players went “missing”. To ensure there isn’t a replay of this at the under-19 World Cup in New Zealand, starting Friday, players of all participating teams have had to hand over their passports to New Zealand Cricket officials.
There were two incidents of players going missing in Toronto. In the first, seven cricketers from Uganda were first thought to be missing but authorities later realised they had hoodwinked their team management and cut loose.
Soon after, five Afghan players and an assistant coach got away. The team management initially denied any defection but were forced to admit to the lapse when President Hamid Karzai held a grand function at the presidential palace in Kabul.
Karzai was reportedly furious as a day of celebration turned into embarrassment.
At the World Cup, where every team’s ambition is to bring home the trophy, the International Cricket Council just wants to ensure every team returns home whole.