Australian cricketers have been advised as a security measure not to venture out of their hotels alone or wear national uniforms and other clothing identifying their nationality during this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
The same advice has been given to the Australian hockey team for the World Cup starting on February 28.
India’s right-wing Shiv Sena party had threatened to prevent the Australian players from playing in Mumbai and Nagpur, both IPL venues, in retaliation for the attacks on Indians Down Under.
The chief of security for the IPL, Bob Nicholls, was quoted as saying in The Age: “The security situation in India is not what we would like it to be, there are concerns, the threat level does remain high.”
“There are concerns generally outside of the Shiv Sena thing. Shiv Sena is obviously a particular area of concern for the Aussies, but from our perspective, we look at the team as a whole.
“And what I can say is that the level of protection we are providing for the general threat is greater than if we were implementing security strategy purely for the Shiv Sena threat, therefore we believe the players will be safe.
“At the moment there doesn’t seem to be any acts of violence happening against Australians in India.
“The times that we would be most concerned about is when they are out and about on their own, we will be giving them a list of dos and don’ts.
“It is pretty straightforward, the greater risk is if people are going out on their own rather than in a team environment, and not to go out advertising that they are Aussies, wearing Aussie shirts.
“The same advice has been given to the Australian hockey team (for the World Cup).”
Security experts have warned of a possible terrorist attack during the IPL and the level of threat has been described as similar to that around the time of the Mumbai terror attack in 2008.
Twenty-one Australian players are listed to play in next month’s IPL, including Shane Watson, Cameron White, David Hussey, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Ryan Harris, Dirk Nannes and Shaun Tait.
Nicholls’ company, Nicholls Steyn and Associates, is in charge of player security for the tournament. It has previously arranged security for cricket’s World Cup and Champions Trophy – and will have a ”representative” with each franchise.
“If those representatives are not comfortable with the security arrangements in place at the destination where players are travelling, such as grounds, then they will order the players to remain in the hotels until those security issues are rectified,” Nicholls said.
“The plan we put in place for the Champions League in India in October, this plan will be very similar to what we did there. That worked very well, so we’re using very much a similar template.”