Chris Stocks looks at what else is go­ing on in Bangladesh

The Cricket Paper - - ENGLAND TOUR OF 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.

PIC­TURE: Getty Images

Un­der guard: Joe Root heads to the team bus un­der tight se­cu­rity out­side the Eng­land ho­tel

By CHRIS STOCKS

BANGLADESH DI­ARY

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