An uneasy calm prevailed over Birmingham city on Wednesday. There was simmering anger among the city's British Asian community over the deaths of three young men who were rammed by a carload of suspected looters in the night. Still, braving the tense situation, a large number of fans turned up at the Edgbaston ground for the India versus England Test.
For many, it was a bit of a surprise that the cricket series was unaffected while most of the other major sporting action ground to a halt in this country. The England-Holland football friendly scheduled for Wednesday at Wembley was cancelled after 70,000-plus tickets had been sold. The strain on the police due to riots in London was cited as the reason for calling it off.
However, the Test was given the all clear on Tuesday night by the local police chief with Inspector Howard Lewis Jones, Match Commander, Edgbaston Cricket Ground, saying: "A lot of planning and preparation has gone into this event. We have worked very closely with the club and police resources have been set accordingly. The Test match will not take away resources from policing the wider Birmingham area."
The Indian team’s security was stepped up on Tuesday with two escort cars and police officers on bikes travelling in front and behind the team bus. At the hotel, no one was allowed in without prior appointment. Following the security instructions, players stayed put at the hotel after training.
Life had come to a standstill here as venturing into the city was risky. About 10 minutes walking distance from the team hotel, gangs of looters were seen making attempts to enter the Bull Ring shopping complex after dusk. The police appeared in better control of the situation though. There were dog teams marshalling the complex, surveillance helicopters hovered overhead and police cars and vans patrolled the streets.
By midnight, police seemed to have won the battle around the city centre as no activity was heard after that. However, the situation had taken a turn for the worst at Winson Green, the inner-city area where the three men were reportedly killed as they tried to protect local businesses in the early hours of Wednesday.