It's cricket diplomacy in Oz

Game is seen as a stepping stone for rebuilding ties

The “Harmony in Cricket” event, organised by Cricket Victoria, was held even as Immigration Minister Chris Evans met Indian students in Melbourne, which has witnessed most of the attacks, and said they need more “support services.” Australian all-rounder Brad Hodge took part in the laneway cricket game and said as the two countries share a love of cricket, more matches could be a “stepping stone” for rebuilding the relationship between Indian students and the wider community.

“I’ve toured India myself and always felt very welcome, and it’s important we do the same here,” Hodge, studying Master of Business (Sport Management) at Deakin University here, was quoted as saying by the Australian media. Hodge, who played for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, condemned the violence on Indian students, and said Australia “needs to remember its multicultural roots. Let’s get back into the friendship, and what we know as Australians, and that’s being friendly to everyone.”

Evans said the game would give the “message that what’s occurred has been isolated incidents, that they don’t represent Australia or it’s views of Indian people.”

Victoria Police spokesman Craig Spicer said: “Having a game of cricket is a really simple concept but the benefits are amazing.” He said reaching out to the community like this would help improve relations with international students.

Amit Menghani, president of the Federation of Indian Students in Australia, welcomed the move. “It is wonderful to see such a positive initiative from the cricket community and the Victorian Police,” he said.

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