ECB saved series by giving India 24-hour security after riots

Tourists now admit they were ready to go home when marauding youths ransacked Birmingham

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The Independent Online

India's cricketers are being provided with a 24-hour security contingent until the end of their tour of England. Without it, they would have gone home after being caught up in the riots which swept across England last week.

Up to 30 plain-clothes, undercover policemen are with the team at their hotel and the ground, as well as a dozen uniformed officers. This heavy security detail was virtually demanded after they had first-hand experience of the riots in Birmingham.

The entire squad were confined to their city-centre hotel as hundreds of marauding youths paraded outside. Although their captain, MS Dhoni, made it clear at the time that his side were not perturbed and were prepared to play on, it is now clear that the tour was in peril.

All matches from Tests to one-day county matches that follow next week will be covered by the heavy security blanket. In some ways, the low-key games to be played in Hove and Leicester are viewed as presenting a greater threat to the team's safety.

There is no question of the team being in any direct danger but they were more affected than they admitted by the scenes of carnage in Birmingham before and during the third Test, which they lost by an innings and 242 runs. India were persuaded to stay when the England and Wales Cricket Board swiftly agreed to increase the security cordon around the team. It is understood that the ECB had a contingency budget of £250,000 which they have now used. The uniformed policemen are seen as necessary by the tourists because they are a sign to potential saboteurs that vigilance is being maintained. Security in India is inevitably high profile with hundreds of uniformed police attending every international match, some of them in full-dress garb.

The fact that India were so quickly placated and have agreed to continue business as normal is a sign of the growing close relations between the ECB and the Board of Control for Cricket in India. There were grave differences between the two bodies until as recently as two years ago.

England's response to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 after which they abandoned but resumed their tour helped enormously. Unquestionably, India were grateful and it helped in making their decision to stay a week ago.

It was also at play during the Ian Bell run-out incident in the second Test at Trent Bridge. On the stroke of tea Bell was quite rightly given out after wandering out of his crease before the ball was dead.

He was reinstated during the interval after Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss, England's coach and captain, approached their Indian counterparts, Duncan Fletcher, who resisted the idea of Bell's recall, and Dhoni.

But phone calls were exchanged between the ECB's top officials and those in the BCCI when the gravity of the incident was made clear. India understood that the rest of the trip could be clouded by the dismissal and withdrew their appeal.

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