Keep crowds informed to prevent riot: Shepherd

Published: Monday, April 10, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Former Test umpires David Shepherd and Dickie Bird believe that the only way to prevent a Guwahati like situation, where the crowds turned violent after the India-England ODI was called off, was to keep the spectators informed or not let them inside the stadium if the chances of having a game were bleak.

''They must have been absolutely frustrated,'' Shepherd told BBC Sport.

''But if they had been kept informed throughout and pre-warned they might have accepted it a bit better,'' he added.

Shepherd said in such situations the spectators should be kept abreast with the proceedings so that in case of a cancellation, the anger does not boil over.

''The important thing is to keep the crowd informed as to what the situation is and whether there is likely to be any play or no play at all,'' he said.

Another celebrated former umpire Dickie Bird gave a nod of approval to Shepherd's observations saying that during his tenure he always tried to use whatever mode of communication available to tell the spectators about all the developments in the game.

''I used to tell whoever was operating the tannoy: Look, you inform them,'' Bird said.

''If there's no communication at all, that's poor. It's a basic problem,'' he added.

Meanwhile, Shepherd said in case the authorities were not capable of handling such situations, they should not allow the fans to enter the stadium until they are sure of holding the match.

''The umpires would make an inspection of the ground, perhaps before the crowd even gets in,'' he explained.

''Then either let the crowd in if they think there's going to be any play or if they don't think there is going to be any play don't let them in at all,'' he added.

''Don't let the crowd in until you are almost sure that play will take place.'' Shepherd said even the captains should take the responsibility of preventing the crowds from becoming violent.

''I've known captains who do that. There was another match in India when they got Sourav Ganguly to speak to the crowd to keep them informed of what the situation was and not to let the unruly element develop,'' Shepherd recalled.

Spectators at the Nehru Stadium in Guwahati, venue for the fifth ODI between India and England, waited for almost five hours before being told about the cancellation of the match.

The fans turned violent after that and pelted stones and burnt hoardings to display their frustration at the turn of events and some people were injured in the incident.

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