MUMBAI, INDIA // Indian Premier League organisers have vowed to take direct responsibility for all security arrangements during the Twenty20 tournament in the wake of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan that has heightened concerns of players travelling to the subcontinent. The IPL chairman Lalit Modi said the league's governing council would centralise security, relieving the eight franchises of the responsibility in their respective cities.
"Security is paramount. We'll be responsible for all security," Mr Modi said today. "Our security budget has increased [by] 10 this year. From the moment foreign players land in India until they leave, we'll take over their security." The IPL will be played April 10-May 24 across India, with some amendments to the match schedule to avoid clashes of dates with the national elections and to avoid overstretching security forces.
Players and officials have openly expressed reservations about playing in the subcontinent after last week's attacks on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore, Pakistan, but Mr Modi said "not a single player, directly or indirectly, has contacted the IPL expressing his security apprehensions". The Lahore attacks, however, played a major role in forcing IPL organisers to undertake a detailed assessment of the security arrangements.
Seven Sri Lankan test players, an assistant coach and a match officials were among those injured in the deadly ambush by gunmen near a cricket arena which killed six police and a driver in the convoy taking players and officials to the match. The International Cricket Council match referee Chris Broad of England and the Australian umpire Simon Taufel were among the harshest critics of the security planning in Lahore.
They were in a van travelling behind the Sri Lankan team bus when the convoy was attacked between the official hotel and the stadium. "There will be daily movement of teams requiring a lot of co-ordination. We have a vigorous plan for each stadium," Mr Modi said. "We're looking at what we missed out or did not do last year. All security measures have been stepped up, it's all going to be a uniform exercise, besides co-ordination with local police at all cities staging matches."
Mr Modi said the security template the organisers were working on originated from exercises undertaken following the Mumbai terror attacks last year which left 164 dead and forced the cancellation of the first Champions League Twenty20 tournament. "For the Chennai test match against England, these rigorous plans were executed and shared with the security agencies," he said. The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations chief Tim May said it had conducted a survey that indicated a large majority of foreign IPL players wanted security stepped up.
Mr May said the IPL and Board of Control for Cricket in India officials had not responded to FICA's communication. India's cricket board does not recognise any association that claim to represent the players. This includes the Indian cricketers' association, which includes prominent ex-members such as former captains Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Ravi Shastri feature on the IPL governing council. "We don't talk to FICA and won't be doing it this time either," said Mr Modi, who is also a vice president of the BCCI.
Mr Modi said the BCCI and IPL organisers had always talked to national cricket boards in all countries. "We will again discuss the event and share details with the national cricket boards," he said. *AP