Pietersen anxious after IPL bombing

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The Independent Online

The Professional Cricketers' Association have expressed concern over security for next year's World Cup in the wake of an explosion at Saturday's Indian Premier League match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians.

Bangalore's England batsman Kevin Pietersen played in the match, which went ahead after an hour-long security check at the venue - though the decision was left in the hands of the players themselves.



PCA legal director Ian Smith told Press Association Sport: "I've spoken to Kevin, and it's perfectly valid to say he's very anxious and upset about the way things were handled.



"He is waiting for a firm view from the security providers about whether or not it is safe to continue."



But Smith has wider concerns, not just about future editions of the Twenty20 league but also about the ICC's global showpiece, due to be held in India and Bangladesh from February 19 to March 2 next year.

He fears a worst-case scenario in which the tournament may have to be moved away from the region - echoing the 2009 Champions Trophy, which was taken away from Pakistan.



The latter country has already seen its World Cup games relocated due to ongoing security concerns - particularly after Sri Lanka's team bus and that carrying match officials were attacked by gunmen en route to a Test in Lahore - and Smith fears an even bigger decision may yet have to be taken.



"Absolutely," he said. "Look at it on a personal level. I would just be another western tourist, and I'm nervous now - imagine what it's like going around in a giant bus, in that traffic, with 'England' emblazoned over everything, saying 'attack me, attack me'.



"It's becoming a more and more dangerous place, the risk profile is only headed in one direction. If it's not safe today, what makes us think it's going to be safe in a year's time? What's going to change between now and the World Cup to make India a safe place?



"Are the security forces going to get better or is the security situation going to improve? Are people going to stop attacking India for some reason?"

South African security firm Nicholls Steyn and Associates were employed by IPL organisers to formulate a security plan for the tournament, and will do likewise for the World Cup.

Smith has no concerns over their efforts, but focused instead on the implementation of the plan by local police and armed forces.



"Players are not supposed to be stuck in traffic, stationary in the bus, but they are," he continued.



"We ought to have a visible uniformed presence on every bridge that crosses the road on the way, and every player will tell you they've never seen a bloke on a bridge.



"We've only got a few games left in IPL, and they're in one venue (Mumbai) after today. That's a controllable situation so I'm not overly worried about that.



"Mumbai police have been excellent, the only implementation better was in Nagpur, which is obviously a much smaller venue.



"The ICC use the same security advisors as IPL, so they will be expecting a full report post-IPL.



"The main impact of this is going to be not just on the future of IPL4, but primarily on the cricket World Cup next year.



"The IPL is primarily an Indian event, whereas at the World Cup you've got a far more dangerous situation, more spread out with whole teams of foreigners rather than just a couple of blokes.



"IPL is a domestic tournament and a guy can choose whether to play in it or not play in it. A single guy with no kids will make a very different assessment to Paul Collingwood, or Kevin Pietersen once he has his child. However, the World Cup is all or nothing.



"I'm sure the ICC will be very worried, politically, about any decision. It was bad enough when we pulled the Champions Trophy out of Pakistan - imagine what it's going to be like trying to pull a World Cup out of India."



This October's Commonwealth Games in Delhi will provide a further barometer of the situation, and Smith said: "That's slightly easier to control because it's in one city. They've got a good security plan, we're aware of that, so the test is can they implement it?



"There are a lot of very bad people out there, doing things for different reasons - but when a bomb explodes, who cares why?



"But if they can keep the Commonwealth Games safe, that might start to make you believe that they can keep the other venues safe in the Cricket World Cup."





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