June 18, 2001

Government intervenes to prevent pitch invasions


Sports Minister Richard Caborn has stepped in to attempt to prevent any repetition of the events that have marred the NatWest Series games at Edgbaston and Headingley.

"I will be speaking to the Home Secretary David Blunkett, and I have asked my officials to look to see what can be done immediately," Caborn told the Press Association. "It is not just an English issue - it is an international one and we will have to work with the ICC.

"We have to make sure we have good protection for both the players and officials," Caborn said, reacting to a plea for help from Notts chief executive David Collier.

In Australia spectators can receive fines of several thousand dollars for running onto the pitch and in South Africa police patrol the boundary with dogs. Unlike the situation at football matches in Britain, spectators running onto the field of play during cricket matches can expect to remain unpunished, often because it has been perceived as harmless over-exuberance. But in the aftermath of a steward receiving serious injuries during the Headingley debacle this view is being reappraised.

"One hoped this would never happen in English cricket," Lord MacLaurin commented, "but we've got it and it has happened twice now. We've got to do something about these mindless people otherwise we could do what they do in South Africa, where they have stewards every 10 metres with snarling dogs and if anyone goes on the field they let the dogs go."