Moeen Ali has said that the security arrangements that dominated England’s planning ahead of their tour of Bangladesh never crossed his mind during their opening practice match against a BCB Select XI in Fatullah on Tuesday.
“I didn’t think about it once. No one mentioned it and I can’t remember thinking about it,” he said on Wednesday, as the England players took a day-off from training.
Moeen was speaking at the team hotel, which has been given several layers of extra security because of the presence of the England contingent. On their way to Fatullah, they were accorded VVIP security so that their long convoy could cut through Dhaka traffic at morning rush hour. There was no need for the fleet of vehicles to stop at any crossing or roundabout in the busy Bangladesh capital.
The convoy flowed at one speed, before reaching the destination which was 25 kms south of their hotel. A typical ride takes about 90 minutes but this one took half the time.
While the match was going on in Fatullah, the security agencies held their final rehearsal at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, where the first two ODIs and the second Test will be held. The forces involved in maintaining security in this series include the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, SWAT, Special Branch, Detective Branch, Rapid Action Battalion and the Bomb Disposal Unit.
The Mirpur venue is now under full CCTV coverage. During the first ODI, there will be body checks at the main gate and at the gallery gate. When the England team’s convoy nears the stadium, at least 1 km is blockaded, and only those on foot can go through. The stadium perimeter wall has been raised too. All the shops in the stadium will be closed on the eve of the match and each shop owner has to sign a bond that declares that their shops don’t contain anything harmful.
This is what the Bangladesh government, in conjunction with the BCB, assured Reg Dickason, the ECB’s security advisor, in mid-August. Based on this, Dickason and the ECB sanctioned the tour.
Although England’s assistant coach Paul Farbrace had said that the security in Bangladesh isn’t as “in your face” as it was for him in Pakistan, the level provided this time is unprecedented, certainly for Bangladesh.
And it must be doing a good job if Moeen didn’t notice it in Fatullah where fans had to go through two walk-through scanners to watch them play. He said that he was happy with the measures taken during this tour. “I’m pretty laid back about it. My theory’s a bit different. I think you’re probably not safe anywhere, if you’re meant to go you’re meant to go.
“It doesn’t mean I’m going to go out but so far it’s been the best we’ve ever had in terms of security, and I think any other country would do well to beat it,” he said.
Moeen said that if the security provided during the Bangladesh Premier League is up to the mark, the English cricketers should not feel unsafe although the PCA has, earlier this week, warned them against participating in the Bangladesh Premier League on security grounds