Cricket: Police `spotters' go on Test alert

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The Independent Online
POLICE INTEND to utilise football intelligence and high technology to avert any crowd trouble at the fifth Test between England and South Africa, starting at Headingley tomorrow.

Trouble has occurred in previous years on the Western Terrace, which houses 6,000 spectators and traditionally attracts the rowdier element of the Headingley crowd.

And after unruly behaviour during the first Test at Edgbaston earlier this year, West Yorkshire Police have adopted similar methods to those used by their colleagues at the National Football Intelligence Unit.

They will employ plain-clothed "spotters", with knowledge of known local hooligans, and video surveillance equipment, the first time such tactics have been used at a Test ground in this country.

Inspector David Boyle, the match commander for police operations at Headingley, explained: "There is increasing evidence that people are attending in order to extend their football xenophobia within cricket."

The drive to prevent soccer-type hooliganism creeping into cricket follows a number of serious incidents during Headingley Tests. These have included a pig's head being paraded on the Western Terrace during the visit of Pakistan in 1992 while the reserve wicketkeeper Tim Zoehrer was punched as he got on to the Australian coach during the 1993 Ashes series. The measures are to be used in conjunction with an alcohol ban on the Terrace while spectators sitting in other areas will be limited to one bottle or four cans each.

The restrictions on fancy dress, first implemented during the Texaco Trophy match at Headingley and also adopted at Old Trafford for the third Test, will again be in force.

Yorkshire still have tickets available despite the explosion of interest in the aftermath of England's Trent Bridge victory when 15,000 were sold in a week to pass the pounds 1m mark.

Nearly 6,000 are available for Thursday, 1,000 for Friday and 2,000 for Saturday and the chief executive, Chris Hassell, said: "Trent Bridge was just what we needed."