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When an England cricket official demands attention, it is only a matter of time before somebody plays the race card. It is part of the baggage of a post-colonial age. In the ICC meeting, as Giles Clarke condemned the political situation in Zimbabwe and pressed for their cricket team's expulsion from World Twenty20, an Indian cricket official attempted to win an old trick. He was greeted with howls of protest.

If this was proof of a realignment of cricket's planets, of the abandonment of tired prejudices in favour of true democracy, then it is long overdue. England, whose authority in world cricket has been negligible since the concession of the power of veto, can forge a new role as a balance to India's unquestioned power, presenting itself as a facilitor for weaker nations or even, to make a grander claim, a guardian of democracy. It is not a bad place to be.

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