Cricket paled into insignificance yesterday‚ the eve of the first international of South Africa’s tour of England.
Talk of safety and security has replaced the usual debate about conditions‚ tactics and team makeup in the wake of the bomb blast at a pop concert in Manchester on Monday that killed 22 people and injured scores more.
“The players are uneasy; there was a lot of chatter at the breakfast table‚” South Africa’s team manager‚ Mohammed Moosajee‚ said in Leeds‚ where the first one-day international will be played today.
“I’m happy to say we’ve had constant communication from the ECB [England Cricket Board] and the security manager‚ and there have been some reassurances and guarantees put in place that the security arrangements currently as they stand will be supplemented starting today.”
Moosajee said that would translate into beefed up arrangements.
“We’ve been told there will be more visible policing at the stadiums‚ at practice sessions as well as the hotels that we will reside at.”
The Champions Trophy‚ which is scheduled to be played in London‚ Birmingham and Cardiff from June 1 to 18 – between the ODI and test series – could provide targets for more attacks.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) moved yesterday to reassure the public that the event would be secure.
“We operate on advice from our tournament security directorate – in conjunction with the ECB and relevant authorities – to ensure that we have a robust safety and security plan for both tournaments‚” the ICC said.
“We will continue to work with authorities over the coming hours and days.”
Moosajee said the fact that the South Africans were in a country that is considered safer than others had influenced their reaction to the bombing.
“As things stand‚ there was no mention of us even thinking of abandoning the tour.”
More happily‚ questions over the fitness of AB de Villiers – who missed South Africa’s tour matches against Sussex and Northamptonshire on Friday and Sunday with a respiratory issue – have been answered.
He has been cleared to play today‚ which would end an absence from the national side that started on March 5.