Security increased after invasion

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The Independent Online

Following the pitch invasion during England's day/night match against Pakistan at Edgbaston on Thursday, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced a series of preventative measures for the remainder of the triangular series, including an Urdu-speaking announcer.

That measure alone suggests that the ECB, which met yesterday with Warwickshire, the other ground authorities and the match referee Brian Hastings, firmly places the blame for the invasion with Pakistan supporters. While it is undoubtedly true that the majority of pitch invaders on Thursday bore either the green and white national flag or the lime-green shirts of Pakistan's one-day strip, the majority were probably born in Britain and would therefore speak English anyway.

The other steps brought in include extra stewards and extra protection for players in the vicinity of the dressing-room where players leave and enter the field. Play will also be suspended if supporters gather on the wrong side of the boundary boards, something that happened at Edgbaston.

Tim Lamb, the ECB chief executive, said: "The crowd incursions were totally unacceptable and we are doing everything to ensure there is no repetition. Our first priority is for the safety of the players, umpires and spectators and we have decided to act swiftly and implement a number of remedial measures. We reject the suggestion made by the Australian captain that the ECB does not regard the matter of crowd invasions as a safety issue."

Steve Waugh, a persistent critic of the authorities over issues of player safety, laid the blame for the shambles with the ECB. "There is little point in me raising my concerns because the ECB refuses to do anything about it," he said before the measures had been announced. "We approached them before the tour and they told us it was in English cricket culture for the crowd to run on the pitch."

In Australia, fans who come on to the playing area are placed in prison overnight and fined A$5,000 (about £2,000). In South Africa, police dogs are used to deter spectators from encroaching on to the pitch during play. They may be more extreme forms of control, but they work.

England have called up Middlesex's Owais Shah for tomorrow's one-day international against Australia at Bristol. He replaces Graeme Thorpe who is expected to be out until the middle of next week after he strained his right calf warming up for Wednesday's defeat by Pakistan.

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