How is the Lahore terror strike going to affect the perception of cricket in the subcontinent — how will it affect India?
The attack has shown that cricket no longer lives in an ivory tower as many believed. I don’t think the threat perception has heightened post-Mumbai. We were always particular about security and will fine-tune it now. But I don’t think this is going to affect cricket in India directly. After all, if England could return to India after the Mumbai attacks, then Lahore is in a different country.
Why the difference?
Because of the perception that, unlike in India, terror in Pakistan is home grown. In Pakistan, unfortunately, you don’t know who is a terrorist. In the last ICC meeting, PCB chairman Ijaz Butt stated that the international cricketing community was using double standards when it came to judging security issues in India and Pakistan. But the others did not agree. They believed what we did, that home grown terror was the issue.
Coming to the IPL, who will be responsible for security at the event?
Definitely, the administration. Security always comes under the state administration’s purview and while we and the private security consultancy will help in the planning, the security per se will have to be handled by the government. But we are confident in the ability of the state administrations to handle that.
But resources would be stretched in that case, with the elections on. The home minister said as much.
I heard Mr Chidambaram’s interview and thought he was pretty flexible in what he said. We understand the government’s point of view and are positive we can work out a solution by rearranging some of the matches. We’ll be meeting with the Home Secretary shortly and this should be sorted out.
But Chidambaram indicated that it might be best to move the event to after the bulk of the elections was done. Could that happen?
Definitely not. There is no other slot available for the IPL. If we cannot agree on rescheduling some matches, we would have to cancel the event. If the state administrations tell us they cannot handle the security, there is no way we can go ahead. But I’m sure it won’t come to that.
What about private security? How will that be handled and what is their job?
What they do is advise us on formulations and the overall security plan. Like whether a particular hotel is secure, how to best protect the teams etc. We spent a lot of time in the recent Goa workshop discussing security issues and everyone felt that the Mohali and Chennai template for the Tests after the Mumbai attack were very good.
You have one group advising you or different for different teams?
The IPL will be advised by South African security consultants Nicholls, Steyn & Associates, who were brought in after the Jaipur blasts during last summer’s IPL. The group prepares a detailed risk assessment and protection strategy and makes suggestions that are then given to all the host cities.
Last time, we implemented their suggestion that control rooms, normally located in basements in Indian stadiums, were moved to places from where security supervisors could have a complete view of the grounds. It’s a detail that makes matters more foolproof.