Security ‘biggest threat’ to cricketers

2009-03-03 00:00

Cape Town — Security is considered the “single biggest threat” to South African and world cricketers, says the domestic professional players’ body.

Tony Irish, CEO of the South African Players’ Association, told Sport24 that “everyone needs to work together” to combat the threat.

Irish said there is “general concern” among top cricketers globally about security issues in the game, as evidenced by a recent Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (Fica) survey. “Everyone needs to wake up now to the disturbing fact that this is the first direct attack on a cricket team; it puts a completely different complexion on the way security must be dealt with.”

Irish said that around the same time as South Africa last toured Pakistan (in September 2007), they had been made aware that it was naïve to assume terrorists would not target cricketers on the Asian sub-continent because of the passion for the game in the region.

“We were told that terrorists would target anything that gave them maximum publicity.

“On the advice of our own government, we were also the first country to officially refuse to go to the Champions Trophy one-day tournament scheduled for Pakistan last year because the risks were too high.

“Our board [Cricket South Africa] told the International Cricket Council straight that we wouldn’t send the Proteas, and the rest of the world then followed suit.

“We’ve always adopted a conservative approach to security matters, while nevertheless keen to honour our [tour] obligations.”

Irish said the wisdom of the decision not to attend the Champions Trophy was highlighted by a subsequent hotel terror attack in Islamabad.

“Had the Champions Trophy gone ahead, arrangements might well have included the South African and England teams staying at the Marriott Hotel there, which was virtually razed to the ground around the same time by a suicide attack.”

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