No 'panic' for Tendulkar as India slump before World Cup

LONDON: Britain may be dealing with a national threat level of "severe" but officials are confident they have the security measures in place for a Cricket World Cup in England and Wales rated a "moderate" security risk.

Recent terror attacks in cricket playing nations have heightened safety concerns regarding the World Cup, which features 48 one-day international matches in 46 days starting with tournament hosts England against South Africa on Thursday.

In March, 51 worshippers were shot dead in mosque attacks in the New Zealand city of Christchurch while more than 250 people died in Sri Lanka as a result of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday.

"When those incidents happened so close to the tournament, quite understandably that did cause some nervousness," Jill McCracken, the World Cup safety and security director, told reporters at the Oval on Monday.

Public events in Britain have not been immune from terror incidents in recent years, with 23 people killed in a suicide bomb attack after a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande in Manchester two years ago.

McCracken, explaining the security position regarding the World Cup, added: "The UK national threat level sits at 'severe', which means an attack is likely.

"But we also work with security services to assess the impact of the tournament itself and they have come to us with a bespoke threat for the event which is 'moderate'-the second lowest on the scale of risk.

"The threat in the UK is always around crowded places, they look for mass casualties, but when you look at the security measures that we have around the venues, around the teams, and the background work we do, that actually reduces threat."

Meanwhile the International Cricket Council said there had been 3.2 million applications for tickets-some four times the actual availability-with 110,000 women and 100,000 Under-16s expected to attend.

Officials are keen to attract family audiences to matches and players have been reminded of the need to set a good example while on the field.

"The definition of sledging (verbal abuse of an opponent) is always difficult," said ICC chief executive David Richardson.

"But one point we've emphasised in all team briefings is to uphold a good standard of behaviour.

"Any malicious or personal comments won't be tolerated. Over the last 12 months it's improved significantly, generally teams are pretty well behaved."

Richardson, a former South Africa wicket-keeper, added he hoped players and fans at this year's men's World Cup would follow the example of the 2017 Women's World Cup in England.

"The Women's World Cup was a good example of that family atmosphere," he said.

"Everyone is welcome, male and female, young and old. Any racism or homophobia, there's zero tolerance for that."

Meanwhile, India must not press the panic button despite losing badly to New Zealand in their first warm-up game for the World Cup, the country's batting legend Sachin Tendulkar said.

New Zealand thrashed India, one of the World Cup favourites, by six wickets at the Oval on Sunday with only Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya scoring more than 20 in India's total of 179.

India's batsmen were "blown away" on the green wicket, the Hindustan Times said, sounding the alarm for their World Cup hopes. But Tendulkar called for calm.

"I will not judge the team after each and every game. It's a tournament and things like these will happen," Tendulkar was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

"The main tournament has not even started yet. I think, we need to settle down, one or two games may go here and there.

"India should make the most of the practice matches," added Tendulkar, the highest scorer in Test and one-day cricket.

"They should understand what kind of surfaces they might get. I won't panic at all as of now."

New Zealand begin their World Cup against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on June 1, while India face South Africa in Southampton on June 5.

Tendulkar also said teams used warm-up games to try different players, which was another reason not to read too much into the results.

"Teams are trying different combinations," he said. "Almost all teams are not sure about their front-line playing 11. Several bowlers and batsmen are rested," he said.

"All the teams are preparing and trying different combinations in those conditions which would work for them," said the former opener, who played in six World Cups. - AFP