Monday, 30th October 2017

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Team India, Balakot and the risk factor in ’19 World Cup

India will have an appreciably higher level of risk after the Mirage 2000 strikes on the JeM training camp in Balakot

By Lokendra Pratap Sahi in Calcutta
  • Published 3.03.19, 2:50 AM
  • Updated 3.03.19, 4:19 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Neeraj Kumar, the head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s Anti-Corruption & Security Unit in the last Champions Trophy recalls daily security-specific briefings. The Telegraph picture

Virat Kohli and his men won’t only be among the most favoured to win the upcoming World Cup, in England between May 30-July 14, but figure very high on the list of teams facing the “most risk” from terror organisations.

Of the eight teams which featured in the 2017 Champions Trophy, the last International Cricket Council (ICC)-conducted competition which involved the Big Guns of the men’s game, India had been at “maximum risk” according to a well-placed source of The Telegraph.

If anything, India will have an appreciably higher level of risk after the Mirage 2000 strikes on the JeM training camp in Balakot.

India’s action in Balakot was a direct fall out of the February 14 terror hit by the JeM in Pulwama, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans, who’d been heading to Srinagar from Jammu.

The last Champions Trophy (won by Pakistan) had also been hosted by England.

It’s widely acknowledged that the 2019 World Cup could have the most elaborate security cover seen in any cricket tournament.

To reassure the 10 participating teams, ICC chairman Shashank Manohar informed the Executive Board at Saturday’s meeting in Dubai that the world body was in regular contact with the “appropriate agencies.”

That would include relevant arms of the Theresa May government.

Actually, that the last Champions Trophy had coincided with an ISIS attack, on London Bridge no less, and the subsequent upgrading of security, is an experience which is bound to come in handy.

Neeraj Kumar, then the head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s Anti-Corruption & Security Unit, recalls daily security-specific briefings.

“The day began with the briefing involving the security heads of the teams in that particular city, the director of security at the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Jill McCracken, and the venue security manager...

“Most of the briefings were in London, but I was in Birmingham as well, the one city besides London where India played...

“There were occasions when the local police chief, the equivalent of a Commissioner of Police in India, also attended...

“You will appreciate that, security being a sensitive subject, I won’t be able to get into specifics...

“The alert levels did go up after the killings on London Bridge and, naturally, I was concerned about the security of our players and support staff,” Kumar, who held the prestigious position of Commissioner of Police in the national capital, said on Saturday.

Ms McCracken, by the way, has served in the Met Police.