The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘We have faith in Indian crowds’

Nagpur: The crowd disturbance in Jamshedpur has come as a rude shock to most of the touring West Indies players. They had, thus far, witnessed sporting crowds all over the country but the attitude of the crowd in the Steel City has raised questions about the cricketers’ security.

Ahead of the second one-dayer, Match Referee Mike Procter made a detailed survey of the players’ security arrangements on Friday morning. The West Indies team management also received a written security assurance from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The police here are not leaving anything to chance and have deployed around 1000 personnel, at least 400 more than the normal number. Security has also been beefed up at the team hotel.

In addition, there will be 200 volunteers from the Hanuman Vyayam Prasakar Mandal, a local gym, manning the gates. The crowd will be barred from carrying water bottles — an item that sparked the disturbance in the opening game — fruits, tiffin boxes, radio, camera, cigarette and match boxes into the ground. Even newspapers will not be allowed since they are often used as torches.

“Jamshedpur was very unfortunate and we felt it was important that the match be played out in its entirety. However, we have received assurance through a fax from the BCCI secretary S.K. Nair this morning that all efforts will be made to ensure that there is no recurrence of this sort of situation,” West Indies team manager Ricky Skerritt said on Friday morning.

“We have confidence in the Board and the cricket loving public of India. We believe all cricket lovers in this country will frown at what took place in Jamshedpur and the people of Nagpur and elsewhere will do everything to ensure that kind of interruption of a game of cricket does not happen again.

“It would be unfortunate if a game of cricket comes to an end because of activity in crowd. We will do everything to co-operate with the BCCI, to make this a successful, exciting and competitive series,” Skerritt added in his statement.

“We have come here to play cricket, to improve as a young team and try to use it as a platform for the World Cup in South Africa. We will do everything to ensure that we can be competitive and as entertaining as possible, but we really hope that there will be no further incidents like the one that happened in Jamshedpur,” the visiting manager remarked.

Fresh violence in Ahmedabad has also raised doubts on the one-day International to be staged there and Skerritt was non-committal. “At this point of time, we are confident the BCCI will assess the situation. As I understand it is more of a political nature and we don’t get involved in politics. We are here to play cricket.

“Of course, if there is any sort of any safety risk we will want to be aware of it. So far our relation with the Board has been excellent, and I’m confident if there is any risk at all to any player, necessary decisions will be made. We are, however, not allowing that to interrupt our thoughts,” he said.

Skerritt also made it clear that they were ready to play anywhere, if need be. “If an emergency requires a shift in venue, we look at the logistics and do everything we can as long as the arrangements make sense to both the teams.”

The team management has also taken the hectic travel plans sportingly. “On Thursday we travelled for 11 hours and, we obviously don’t want to do that if we can avoid it.

Both teams are experienced enough and as long as no team has an advantage over the other and the arrangements are the best that can be done, we’re not complaining. It’s hectic but under the circumstances that’s something we’re committed to continuing with,” he said.

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