October 22, 2016

England vs Bangladesh Security tight as one-day series set to begin

England play the first of three one-day internationals against Bangladesh on Friday, following a build-up dominated by security concerns.

They will be skippered by Jos Buttler after limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales decided not to tour.

Bangladesh army commandos performed drills inside the stadium on Thursday.

“We witnessed a graphic demonstration of the response capabilities of the Bangladesh army,” said England security chief Reg Dickason.

No international side has toured Bangladesh since 20 people were killed in a siege at a cafe in Dhaka in July.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said in August that tour would go ahead following a security review.
You can hear the England team coming from streets away. It isn’t the roar of the fans, because even the Barmy Army decided not to risk coming to Dhaka. What you hear is the scream of sirens.

In Bangladesh, the England team bus travels with a phalanx of motorcycle outriders and a fleet of police cars jammed full of heavily armed officers.

The ECB’s security team gave Bangladesh the all clear but the authorities here don’t want to take any chances. An incident-free England tour will be evidence to the world that Bangladesh isn’t as dangerous as many fear. Any attack would be a disaster for the reputation of the country.

But there is a risk that the small army guarding the cricket – not to mention the elaborate drills the Bangladeshis carried out inside a cricket stadium, complete with helicopters and a litter of pretend corpses – exaggerates the dangers to foreign visitors.

This is not a country in the grip of fear. Out on the streets of Dhaka the atmosphere is just as friendly and welcoming as I’ve always found it.

That said, earlier in the week I stopped for a cup of strong sweet tea at a stall in a busy market.

“Aren’t you worried?”, asked the chaiwala – the tea man.

“Why?”, I asked.

“Because you are the only white man here.”

I looked around. He was right.
On Thursday, the team watched the evacuation rehearsal inside the stadium led by the Rapid Action Battalion, the special security force of the Bangladesh police.

“It’s quite eye-opening and something you hope we will never ever have to see for real,” said Buttler. “It’s a shock and it’s sad that it has to be there.

“Everything has been in good order. Travel to and from the ground has been great for us although I’m sure it’s been a bit frustrating for the locals.

“Security has been great so far, I think the guys within the group haven’t even mentioned it.”

What about the action on the pitch?

Buttler leads England for the first time in a one-day international as the team look to make amends for the 15-run defeat by Bangladesh in Adelaide that knocked them out of the World Cup last year.

England have been in superb form since the World Cup, but Buttler believes the tourists will be underdogs against a team who have won their last six ODI series on home soil.

“There’s no real motivation for revenge,” said Buttler. “It’s going to be a fantastic challenge for us as a group, this journey that the ODI side has been on in the last two years, it’s a different one that lost to Bangladesh in the World Cup in Australia.

“It’s not going to be easy for us. Bangladesh are very strong at home in their own conditions, and you look at the recent successes they’ve had in the ODI series. We don’t mind being underdogs at all – that’s something that probably suits us.”

If England name the same XI that beat a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI on Tuesday it would mean an international debut for Northamptonshire batsman Ben Duckett.

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