Mother of all Security

Of the hardest topics to write about during an ICC event is security.  It is a serious subject and one about which very few people know a lot, but an awful lot know a bit.

From the outside, it can often appear as though security personnel, both private and public, have been briefed to make life as awkward as possible — physically and emotionally — for the paying public.  Innocent, autograph-seeking children can be denied their moment of glory and hassled Mums never take kindly to having their carefully packed family rations ransacked by uncaring men in khaki.

The list of frustrations for paying spectators is a long one.  But the recent bombs in Bangalore, on top of other security breaches around the world, have made everybody a little more tolerant and understanding of the objectives.  As always, it would be a good idea if some time and money was spent on training public security staff to understand that buying a ticket makes a patron a customer, not a target.  With consumer rights, including dignity.  They do not spend money to become “targets”.

Surprisingly enough, the “private” security element of the ICC operation also does not go according to plan from time to time.  International cricketers are not trained to recognize an elite, deadly, alert, man-killing commando from an overweight, baseball cap-wearing, fast food munching cellphone addict.  Occasionally the two extremes of Caribbean mankind blend impossibly closely.

The players’ balcony during match days is routinely inhabited by six or seven of these hybrid, hungry, gold-teethed demons. The players and management staff from all competing nations are briefed to within an inch of their lives by ICC security agents about the career threatening effects of being in possession of a cellphone in the change room, let alone talking on one.  But that does not appear to affect “Lime-man”, “Sparkey” or “Cedric”.

On one occasion a dedicated private security officer accompanied one of the teams to the beach after practice to keep an eye on them while they warmed down after training.  He stuck manfully to his task for well over half an hour until a drop-dead gorgeous girl in a bikini started asking him why he was dressed in a “Miami Vice” shirt and loafers on the beach.  His explanation was obviously best delivered off the beach, and he was gone.

It is only right and natural for support staff, in all areas, to be on the lookout for autographs and souvenir shirts.  I certainly would be if I put in the hours that these men and women do.  They are all undoubtedly experts, but they are people, too.  While some may suggest that security is compromised, others cannot help but feel comforted by the fact that their protectors are also “real” people.

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