Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid in harness for England © Getty Images
Reg Dickason, England’s security advisor, has played down any concerns that England’s Muslim players, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, may have about touring India after media reports that Pakistan umpire Aleem Dar would not stand in the series because of the further potential for nationalist protests.
Dar was never scheduled to stand in the India vs England Test series, according to ICC, so cannot properly be said to have been withdrawn, but that might be regarded as a pragmatic decision after he was pulled out of a one-day series between India and South Africa last year because of threats.
England have been full of praise for Bangladesh’s high-level security operation during their recent Test series and, although Dickason indicated that protection levels will be less apparent in India, he suggested that Moeen and Rashid had not expressed misgivings that they might be singled out for protests. Moeen was subjected to abuse from England-based India fans during India’s previous tour of England in 2014.
“We have no real concerns but we’re certainly aware of the issues Aleem Dar has,” Dickason said. “I know it was reported that he wasn’t going, that he’d been pulled out, but according to the ICC he’s just been rostered at another event. But Shiv Sena had some issues with Aleem there and went to the BCCI offices. So we’re certainly aware of that but we don’t expect any real issues.
“I’ve spoken to him and Adil and they seem ok to me. They haven’t expressed any doubts to me.”
The ICC withdrew Dar from the last two ODIs between India and Sri Lanka, stating that “Monday’s incident in Mumbai where a group of extremists stormed into the BCCI office” was the reason for its decision. Former Pakistan cricketers Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar, also missed the Mumbai ODI as a security precaution in response to anti-Pakistan protests by the Shiv Sena, a regional political party, about a scheduled meeting between BCCI and PCB officials.
Dickason also expressed general satisfaction that the security plans drawn up were appropriate to withstand any threat from wherever it might arise. England abandoned their last two ODIs in India in 2008 in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, but returned to fulfil the Test series under heavy security.
“It’ll be similar to Bangladesh but a different layout,” he said. “It was very overt here and it won’t be as overt in India. The road clearances that we got here that are usually reserved for heads of state we probably won’t get in India. But we’ll get adequate transit protection. “The BCCI get a host-city security plan which is a generic issue from a master security plan which is put across the whole event. There will be some subtle differences but it won’t be too many.
It appears, however, that England’s players will be expected to withstand a further period inside a security cordon and that the India tour will be a sequence of journeys from hotel to cricket ground and back again.
“It’s certainly much better if the group stays as a group,” he said. “Then we can concentrate the security resources on the group rather than people star bursting.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo