What is it about elected officials that when they have run out of ways to meddle in the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to have voted for them, they have to massage their egos by making pronouncements upon things way beyond their ken?
Thus we have Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council, deciding that Aston Villa should include Birmingham in its title to boost international recognition of the city.
Now it strikes me that the city council and loads of quangos and jobfobs – that’s jobs for the boys – have been the beneficiaries of several convoys of readies over the years to promote the name abroad – with no shortage of volunteers for trade missions, exhibitions, delegations, conferences and fact-finding visits to the more exotic corners of the earth.
There have been enough consultants to populate a small central European principality, reports, consultation documents, working parties and all the other excuses to spend money that local and national government can come up with. Amid all that, Coun Whitby comes up with the brilliant suggestion that Villa should change its name to become a sort of sporting jingle for the city.
Villa was formed in 1874 and was a founding member of the Football League in 1888. Birmingham did not even become a city until 1889.
I am no Villa fan but I suspect there are more people in the world who can identify with the name Aston Villa than Birmingham City Council which, let’s be honest, even its staff think is in Alabama.
Meanwhile, England’s ill-fated tour of India is in the balance as the team arrive for what the authorities, more in hope than expectation, see as home leave before the Test series. England were being thumped in the one-day series and there is little sign that we would do any better giving India five days – an optimistic estimate in itself – to establish our credentials as a declining cricket power.
If the tour does not go ahead, England will be spared a somewhat embarrassing Christmas, but terrorism would have won a significant victory on the sub-continent where cricket is almost a religion.
Amid all this are our cricketers. They are well paid, but they are still ordinary lads, some with wives and families. They are not soldiers or politicians, just sportsmen who are not expected to put their lives on the line. Whatever decision is made should be purely on safety.
Upsetting the ICC, penalties, international relations or government wishes should not even enter the argument. Cricket is just a game and is not worth dying for.