Windies demanding security assurances ahead of England tour

By Richard Edwards

THE West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) is seeking assurances on beefed-up security in the run-up to their tour this summer, following the terror attacks in London and Manchester.

The West Indies, currently playing a T20 series against Afghanistan following their failure to qualify for the ICC Champions Trophy, are due to arrive in England in July.

Johnny Grave, the English chief executive of the WICB, however, has told The Cricket Paper that a thorough review of the current security situation is necessary after the horrific events of the past three weeks.

“As the ICC Champions Trophy is currently taking place at several venues in the UK, including the Kennington Oval in London, we have been receiving regular security updates from the ICC and these reports suggest that every effort is being made to ensure the safety of all persons taking part in the tournament,” says Grave.

“The West Indies women’s squad is currently in the UK preparing for the upcoming ICC Women’s World Cup and our most recent information from the squad (who are currently at Loughborough University Campus) suggest that all is well and that the security plans in place are sufficient.

“In terms of the West Indies men’s team tour to the UK later this summer we have already received the Security Plan for the tour from the ECB, however the recent incidents in London and Manchester have taken place since the submission of the plan.

“We have recently asked the ECB to review the plan in light of the recent terrorist attacks and our security manager is continuing to monitor the situation closely and provide regular updates.”

The current situation has echoes of 2005, when one of the most famous series in modern cricket history took place against the backdrop of the July 7 attacks on the capital’s transport system and the chaotic events that followed.

Then, as now, sport went on relatively unaffected, with the Australian side happy to continue their tour despite ongoing security concerns.

The ICC has made it clear that the safety of players and spectators is paramount over the course of the Champions Trophy.

All team hotels went into lockdown after the events at London Bridge and Borough Market on Saturday night.

Ben Stokes was dining in Leicester Square at the time, while Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett both ended up travelling to Cardiff by bus after finding their cars stuck in the police exclusion zone near the England hotel.

Steven Finn – called up to the squad in place of the injured Chris Woakes – said the side were comfortable with the ‘ring of steel’ placed around the side at the Champions Trophy.

The enhanced security arrangements put into action following the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena on May 22 remain in place.

“We operate on advice from our tournament security directorate – in conjunction with the ECB and relevant police and security authorities – to ensure that we can deliver a safe and secure event,” read a statement released by the ICC on Sunday morning.

“We will continue to work with authorities over the coming hours and days to review our security in line with the threat levels.”

The current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is rated as severe and is unlikely to have receded substantially by the time the West Indies touch down.

There have been warnings from terror experts throughout the week that efforts to destabilise the country by extremists are unlikely to end with Saturday’s tragic events.

The ECB, however, insists it’s doing all it can to stay on top of the situation.

“Like all major sports, we have very thorough plans for safety and security,” an ECB spokesperson told TCP. “We keep these under constant review, working with the relevant authorities and taking guidance from our own security experts.

“While we can’t share details of our security processes for operational reasons, we do take all necessary precautions to ensure the security of spectators, teams and officials. Their safety will always be of paramount importance to ECB and its host venues.”

South Africa expressed serious concerns following the atrocity in Manchester at the start of their tour.

Dr Mohammed Moosajee said the Proteas’ players had been left feeling “uneasy” after the bombing, but had no plans to alter their current schedule.

With the first Test at Lord’s now less than a month away, they, like the West Indies, will be monitoring events and advice closely.

Australia cancelled its tour to Bangladesh in 2015 and also pulled its U19 side out of the World Cup in the country over security issues.

Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan, meanwhile, refused to tour Bangladesh back in October, citing similar concerns.

This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, June 9 2017

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