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Indians and police bond over cricket

Tension over recent attacks on Indian students around Victoria was put aside today, when Indian students joined members of Victoria Police for a game of laneway cricket in Melbourne’s CBD.

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Weeks of unease were all but forgotten as the mixed teams had a hit as part of Cricket Victoria’s Harmony in Cricket program.

Australian cricketer Brad Hodge went along for his first game of laneway cricket and said as the two countries share a love of the game, 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,” said Hodge, who has played alongside many Indian cricketers in the Indian Premier League and has toured the country as part of the Australian Test team.

“Cricket’s about friendship and love for the game, and we’re here to try to do both.”

Violence condemned

Hodge criticised the recent violence, 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,” he said.

“That’s who Australians are and that’s what we have to get back to.”

Sport could improve relations

Victoria Police spokesman Constable Craig Spicer said a simple game of cricket could improve the relationship between police and the Indian community.

“Having a game of cricket is a really simple concept but the benefits are amazing.”

He said reaching out to the community like this helped police improve relations with international students.

Positive reaction

Student Rimpy Singh said it a step in the right direction and could help Indian students move past the last few weeks.

“I’ve got the confidence back in me to say we can forget the past, and move forwards,” Mr Singh said.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans was in Melbourne to meet with Indian students about their concerns over the recent spate of attacks.

He said there was a very strong relationship between Australia and India and the government was supportive of the Indian community.

“These attacks have been isolated acts of a small few, not at all representative of the Australian population more generally,” Mr Evans said.

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