Chris Stocks looks at what else is going on in Bangladesh
England’s presence here in Bangladesh is accompanied by an unprecedented level of security to ensure the tour passes off without incident following the terrorist attack in Dhaka last summer that killed 22 people.
The siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery at the start of July put this tour in doubt and even after it was cleared by England security chief Reg Dickason, two players – one-day captain Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales – chose not to travel after being given the option by the England & Wales Cricket Board.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I was happy to come to Bangladesh once it was deemed safe by Dickason.
But the sheer weight of security on the ground here has surprised me.
Maybe I was naïve. However, it’s comforting and, if you think about it too much, equally disturbing that this level of protection is needed for a cricket tour. Saying that, after a week in Bangladesh I have now become used to it.
At the team hotel in Chittagong, where the media are also staying, there are literally hundreds of police, army soldiers and SWAT team personnel guarding the place.
The armed convoy from the hotel to the main ground here in Chittagong – the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium – is an impressive and imposing spectacle. Whizzing through the closed-off roads of Chittagong as the local population cram the pavements looking on in amazement is a bizarre experience.
However, it is necessary to ensure everybody’s safety.
During England’s recent tour matches at the nearby MA Aziz Stadium, we were even accompanied by armed guards for the short walk to the ground.
Failure to notify the police you are leaving the hotel results in a dressingdown. No chances are being taken because the ramifications of this tour for cricket here are huge.
Bangladesh needed England to come to their country after Australia refused to do so on security grounds last year. A failure to honour the tour would have probably seen others follow suit.
It’s imperative then that the five weeks England are in Bangladesh pass off without incident. A trouble-free tour will encourage others to visit – perhaps even Australia, who say they are keen to reschedule their trip. For the future of cricket in this country, that is critical.
Pakistan have been forced to play all their home games in the UAE since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore seven years ago.
Bangladesh do not want to follow Pakistan into the wilderness and for that reason the heightened security and the reassurances it gave England to come here are a small price to pay.
Under guard: Joe Root heads to the team bus under tight security outside the England hotel