x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The money makes it a risk worth taking

Chris Cairns gives his solution to the IPL security concerns faced by the Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa player associations.

Reg Dickason, right, a cricket security expert, is said to have major concerns over the IPL organisers' security measures ahead of the 2010 instalment of the competition.
Reg Dickason, right, a cricket security expert, is said to have major concerns over the IPL organisers' security measures ahead of the 2010 instalment of the competition.

The player associations of Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa have all expressed concerns about sending their players to the IPL. Chris Cairns gives his solutions on the matter. An agonising conundrum: cash for life, or potentially, your life for cash. The international players who have signed lucrative contracts for the 2010 instalment of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which starts on March 12, will be wrestling with many issues at present.

These are men with million dollar contracts for six weeks' work. They will be trying to justify to themselves in every conceivable way that the environment the IPL organising committee says it will create for them, as far as security is concerned, will indeed be what they say it is. The difficulty with security for the IPL is the geographical spread. There is absolutely no correlation to the World Hockey Championships, which begin in India on Sunday, or to the Commonwealth Games to be staged later this year. Comparisons to these events are rendered pointless (but may actually provide a solution) as these events are confined to one city and all security resources are concentrated in to one area.

The IPL on the other hand is played in 12 different cities in several different states. Each state will have its own plan with its own security and this in itself possesses inconsistencies that would have been flagged straight away by Reg Dickason, a security expert who specialises in the sport, who has been commissioned by the player associations of England, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa to address the security issue.

Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, has been vocal in his distaste for the players' representatives. The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (Fica), headed up by Tim May, the former Australian Test off-spinner, have been at loggerheads with Modi over the latter's inflexibility in providing Fica with a detailed report of their security plans. It is foolish for Modi not to recognise these associations because these organisations play a major role in every cricketing decision the modern player makes.

Fica have the players' best interests at heart and they are not just some blue collar workers' union. They are made up of men who have played the game, and over the last decade have come to work alongside their respective cricket boards to create a better environment for players and board members alike. The game of cricket is the winner in this marriage. It seems the report from Dickason, the security expert, is a damning one. Obviously we will never know publicly what their concerns are but Fica will go back to the IPL to seek clarification on certain issues. So what are the solutions?

The first one is don't go. But here you risk endangering your value for the auction to be held in September this year for the 2011 instalment of the lucrative Twenty20 competition. In fact some sources at the IPL say players who choose not to play this year may be blacklisted for future tournaments. I don't believe this will happen but then again I didn't think any Pakistan players would not be picked in the 2010 auction.

Option two is to stage the event in another country, as was done last year when the tournament was moved, miraculously, in four weeks to South Africa. Modi insists this is not an option, saying it will take place in India regardless of whether players pull out. It's a pity for the UAE that there is so little time available to shift the event, as I believe Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah could easily host it; the venues are world-class and safety is all but guaranteed.

Option three is to do exactly what the World Hockey Championships and Commonwealth Games do: concentrate the games in one area at a time. This would mean playing matches in one city and one venue over four days. For example, Mumbai would host the first six to eight matches of the tournament. This would mean having all the players stay at the same hotel and then there is only one ground to secure. Then it would be pack up and go to the next venue in say, Kolkota, where the same programme is rolled out. Then on to each of the other grounds appointed for the 2010 fixture list.

There are many television and production people involved in the IPL and you would need a crew setting up in the next location so the players would literally come in and play the four days and then move on. This is achievable because of the scale of the IPL's resources. It also means everyone is contained in one location and are easier to protect. The fourth option is the most interesting one. We have heard from the players about their security concerns. With the money that is on offer to them, surely if a few of the players in the same franchise pooled together their funds they could employ their own security team. When travelling with your national team it will be the country's board who pay for security guys like Dickason to accompany the team. If I was at Kolkota I would get Shane Bond and Brendon McCullum together and ask Dickason how much it would cost to have him along with us for the six weeks. It's viable but I haven't heard it mentioned, but I bet that some players who go will employ their own security.

What would I do if I was faced with this situation? I'd go and play. I would employ a security team to travel with me at all times and keep abreast of affairs. The world around us is a changing landscape. Militants get mileage out of threats; fear is the weapon they use to create doubt. I would hate to see anything dreadful happen for the sake of the Indian people. I believe it could evoke a potentially violent response from a very peaceful nation to whoever instigates an attack.

The effects of 9/11 and the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 means people fear the worst whenever a threat is issued. The images of those harrowing days are tattooed on the psyche. Sure, by going to the IPL you increase the odds of putting yourself in harms way, but we are never sure of our days' end. Each player's decision to stay at home or to travel is the correct one for them. I just wouldn't let someone or something dictate how I live my life.

sports@thenational.ae