When the West Indies cricket team toured England in 1976, there was tension on the pitch and riots in the streets. When the Australians visited England for the Ashes series of 1981, England came back from the brink of humiliation and there were riots in the streets. And now India is touring England, and once more there are riots in the streets. On each of these occasions, race was a factor in the disturbances and cricket was a calming influence or a safe channel for aggression. Over the last few days, numerous soccer games have been canceled, but the cricket continues, even though the current Test match at Edgbaston is only a few yards from disturbances in Birmingham. Sometimes, the best solution really is to play ball.