Fix free matches: Tight security ring around teams

Published: Monday, February 3, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Durban: The Indian cricket team and other participants of the World Cup are surrounded by a tight security cordon in order to ensure that the players are not only protected against any acts of terrorism but also against unscrupulous bookies.

The Indian players, who are based in Durban preparing for the tournament, enjoy very close protection. Their every move is watched by plain clothes Indian-origin police officers and uniformed policemen have been posted at their beachfront hotel 24 hours a day. Anyone wishing to talk to the players or seeking autographs are prohibited and kept as far as possible. And journalists seeking interviews have to go through all the formalities and frisked by plain clothes security policemen. In addition, when the tournament proper starts on February 9 in Cape Town, the International Cricket Council ICC will employ a string of security measures over players and officials to keep out bookies who are understood to be already operating in London and South Africa.

World Cup spokesperson Rodney Hartman confirmed the measures and added that the authorities would be keeping a close watch on book-makers trying to enter the country. A dossier has been compiled of known book-makers, who had been involved in match- fixing during the Hansie Cronje saga and South Africa's immigration officials had been informed to keep them out. Some of these book-makers include Indian nationals and Indian-origin bookies based in London. Hartman said the ICC's anti-corruption unit was aware of the methods employed by bookies and therefore stringent measures would be employed to ensure that even insignificant information would not be passed onto bookies. Officials were aware that innocuous information such as the form of players and injury to key players were "gold" to bookies.

In addition to strict security measures, there would also be guards outside player dressing rooms; closed circuit television cameras inside and outside dressing rooms; players would not be allowed to carry cell phones and they would only be allowed use of a cell phone carried by team managers for urgent matters. Media managers would also be allowed to carry cell phones but would not be allowed to use them in team areas. One of the five regional security managers would also attend every match.

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