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   I was talking to the commissioner of police... (October 28, 1991)

I was talking to the commissioner of police this morning about the new training plans they have to improve the performance of the force.

"The Bombay police have had a lot of criticism from the press and the publice lately and I agree that a lot of it is justified, but not all," he said. "However, we are putting the entire force through a crash refresher course in order that they improve their performance and the Bombay police regain their reputation of being the finest police in the world."

"I am happy to hear that," I said.

"Yes," the commissioner said. "At our Naigaum police parade ground, we are putting up a cricket pitch, exactly the same size as the regular cricket pitches, for the police to practice on."

"Good," I said, "there is nothing like sports, and especially cricket, to build discipline in the police force. Who knows, with proper practice and a good coach, they may even become a champion cricket team."

"You are missing the point," the commissioner said. "The pitch is not to let them practice playing and become champions, it is to help them practice to guard pitches, so that in future patriotic vandals do not pop in and damage pitches in their presence."

"That is good thinking," I said.

The commissioner continued: "A lot of our policemen, both officers and men, have never seen a cricket pitch. They think doing duty at a cricket stadium is chasing some spectator who runs out on the ground to shake Kapil Dev's hand when he takes 200 wickets or something. Or walking up and down in front of the sight-screen, so that nobody else does so and disturbs the batsmen."

"I am sure all that can be remedied," I said.

"It will be," said the commissioner. "Among other things, we are having an identification parade for the benefit of senior and middle-level officers. Several people will be paraded in front of the officers in order to help them to distinguish between groundsmen at the Wankhede Stadium and patriots who have come to damage the pitch. At present, anybody who comes with a spade, axe, oil and other implements to the ground, our offiers tend to assume he is a groundsman."

"Yes, it is confusing," I said. "Is there anything else you are planing to protect the pitches?"

"No sleeping will be allowed while on stadium duty," the commissioner said. "To reach them to keep awake, policemen in batches will be made to sit up through the night and listen to recorded commentaries of Henry Blofeld."

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