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Indians rush to safeguard IPL gold

England's cricketers are demanding presidential-level security, while that country's powerbrokers have demanded unprecedented anti-terror measures to protect the lucrative IPL following the Mumbai attacks.

At the same time India is threatening not to tour Pakistan in retaliation for the terror strikes.

Initially the Board of Control for Cricket in India had baulked at the idea of the forthcoming Pakistan tour because of security concerns. Now there are press reports that the tour might be snubbed because the bombers came from Pakistan.

Australia was mocked for skipping a tour of that country earlier this year because of security concerns. Times correspondent Simon Barnes recently labelled the side the "weasels of international sport" for its security concerns.

England dashed home when bombs went off in India last week and up to six members of the side have apparently indicated they do not want to return for a Test series due to begin next Thursday in Chennai.

Some reports claim a number of county players with valid passports have been put on standby to fill the vacant places should the tour go ahead.

England has asked the BCCI for around-the-clock protection from the terrorist response group that handled the Mumbai siege and a plane on standby at all times should they need to evacuate the country.

India has already shifted the December 19 Mumbai match from that city to Mohali. England's cricket gear was left in the Taj Mahal hotel during the siege and there are reports that the side has booked a ground at Abu Dhabi for practice.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke was making the right noises about the tour yesterday,

"The security advice we are receiving has not changed and we are getting a lot of help and co-operation from everyone in India," Clarke said.

"A lot of progress has been made and some extremely good and constructive meetings have taken place.

"The BCCI is doing all it can to facilitate the tour, but we must do what we have to do properly and thoroughly. It is what every England player wants and deserves.

"Under no circumstances will we allow our cricket to be dictated to by terrorists. India is an enormous country and there are large parts of it that have never seen terrorist activity. In 2005 (when terrorists attacked parts of London), the Aussies were sensible and we are doing the same here."

Australian security consultant Reg Dickason is in Chennai at the moment doing a full security report for the ECB while the players association has been in meetings with the foreign office.

Middlesex bowlers Tim Murtagh, Alan Richardson and Steven Finn have been placed on standby, presumably to replace the reluctant Steve Harmison, Andrew Flintoff and another unnamed bowler.

IPL and BCCI chief Lalit Modi has sent off instructions to all Indian state associations and stakeholders demanding security be upgraded before the Twenty20 tournament which is due to be held early next year.

According to reports in the Hindustan Times the powerbroker has demanded CCTV monitors in all parts of every stadium with state-of-the-art monitoring rooms and that all turnstiles at entry and exit points have increased security. Unlike Australia, many grounds in India already have bomb and metal detectors at certain gates, but these are not always properly maintained or monitored.

The IPL uses the International Management Group to administer the tournament and IMG has, according to the reports, appointed HOK -- a Dutch security company -- to audit all venues.

The Twenty20 organisation is backed by the BCCI in its demand that all associations upgrade their security and has threatened a loss of international matches if it is not done quickly and well.

HOK is also establishing a "disaster management team" to visit the grounds.

source - news.com.au
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