With the Champions Trophy just a week away, the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) moved quickly to reassure all concerned of a “robust safety and security plan” in the aftermath of the suspected suicide bombing in Manchester on Monday. While big sporting events around the world have learnt to live with the dangers of terrorism and an enhanced and more visible security apparatus, an attack of such nature just days ahead of a big event is bound to raise concerns.
India is arguably the most high-profile team in the competition and the BCCI is sending the consultant of its Anti-Corruption Unit, former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, to England much before the players.
The ICC said it will review the security for the Champions Trophy starting June 1, and the Women’s World Cup, that follows it immediately afterwards in the United Kingdom. Manchester is not a venue for the Champions Trophy, which will be played in London, Birmingham and Cardiff, but the world body will not like to take any chances.
“We operate on advice from our Tournament Security Directorate — in conjunction with the ECB and relevant authorities — to ensure that we have a robust safety and security plan for both tournaments,” ICC said in a statement.
“We will continue to work with authorities over the coming hours and days and review our security in line with the threat levels. The security situation has been very much front and centre of our preparations and we constantly review our procedures to guarantee they are as effective as possible to keep everyone safe,” it added. The BCCI wasted little time in expressing concern over the security arrangement for the Indian team in England.
“When I woke up, the first thing which I learnt was about these attacks. As soon as I was in the BCCI office, we sent out a message raising our concerns about security of the Indian team’s travel, accommodation and the playing (arena). Thankfully, ICC has responded to it within two hours. They have been sensitised about our concern,” acting BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary said. “Obviously these attacks are in nature of terrorist attack.
This is something which can affect any individual on the planet. The security concerns are that much more intense,” said Choudhary. Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, one of cricket icons to come out of Lancashire, which includes Manchester, did his bit to keep the public’s chin up in the face of adversity. “In the toughest of times the people of Manchester showing why this is such a great city, standing together in the face of such evil,” he tweeted.
Eng cricketer escapes unhurt
England woman cricketer Danielle Wyatt attended the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, the scene of the attack, but escaped unhurt. “Thank you for all messages — I’m safe. Was at the concert enjoying myself like many others — thoughts with victims & families,” she communicated on Twitter. The three-match ODI series between England and South Africa, starting in Leeds on Wednesday, serves as an appetiser for the Champions Trophy, but the ECB will now also want these games to go on without incident.
There will be a minute’s silence observed before the match and both sets of players will wear black arm bands as a mark of respect for the victims. Leeds is not too far from Manchester and the two teams were understandably jittery as they prepared for the match. “It’s really sickening to think that something like that can happen so close to home,” England skipper Eoin Morgan said. “From our point of view, it certainly puts things into perspective. Hopefully, tomorrow we can go out and perform and put a smile on people’s faces.”
The left-hander expressed confidence about the arrangements for the smooth conduct of the match. “We have lot of trust in our security. We have spoken to (England’s security advisor) Reg Dickason. He has assured us that everything is ok,” the former Ireland international said. The South Africa team has been told there will be extra police officers on duty at the ground and increased security at team hotels and practice.
Captain AB de Villiers said the attack in Manchester was a major talking point in the South African team, but the players were ready to go for the short series. “It’s something we spoke about at length at breakfast. It’s definitely at the back of our minds, but it’s important for us to focus on our job at hand. We would like to play some brave cricket and try to forget what happened,” the skipper of the top-ranked ODI team said.