June 20, 2001

ECB requests government intervention as Lord's considers fencing


David Clarke, the corporate communications manager for the ECB, has urged the government to take action as soon as possible to deter unruly spectators.

"It is the ECB's wish to see legislation brought in by the government," Clarke said. "We are looking for the government to help us out and give us some of the tools we need to control the kind of issues we have been faced with over the last few days.

"We are not looking for draconian measures. Nobody wants to see police dogs and huge fences on England's cricket grounds. We are looking for sensible measures and that's the sort of thing we will be pursuing with the government.

Clarke also revealed that the ECB and MCC were discussing erecting fencing similar to that seen at Trent Bridge last night, at Lord's for the NatWest Series Final on Saturday.

"I think the temporary fencing achieved what it set out to achieve at Trent Bridge in allowing the players and umpires to get off the pitch safely," he said. "The head of security for the MCC was at Trent Bridge and will have first hand experience of what happened."

Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire chief executive David Collier explained how Richard Caborn, the new Sports Minister, watched Pakistan beat Australia in an effort to understand the problems facing the cricket authorities.

"The Minister of Sport was at Tuesday's game and we impressed on him that it would be hugely beneficial to have legislation in place similar to in Australia," Collier revealed.

"What happens there is that fines can be levied if people come onto the field of play. It is something that would act as a major deterrent and would have greatly assisted us in the preparations for Tuesday's game.

"Clearly the Taylor Report means that permanent fences are not a realistic option but the huge fines system in operation in Australia has worked and I think that is the best solution at this time."

And former prime minister John Major added his voice to those calling for legislation: "I hope our new Sports Minister - when he knows who he is - gives it some serious consideration," he stated.

"I note with interest how the matter is dealt with in Australia; that seems to be pretty effective," he continued. "What works in Australia doesn't always translate to here but if people misbehave there the smack of official discipline is quite sharp."

Players from both sides agreed that action needed to be taken as soon as possible.

Surrey and England all-rounder, Ben Hollioake offered his views. "Fining people or jail could work, and I know you couldn't do that with every person that was out there the other night, but if you picked out 10 people at random and fined them, surely they are eventually going to stop doing it?" Hollioake reasoned.

"Something harsh has to be done to them to stop them doing it again, you can't just say please don't come out onto the pitch because it obviously doesn't work."

"It was quite scary when they all came charging on. It was like a scene out of Braveheart!" he continued.

Brett Lee described how the reckless use of fireworks caused him to fear for his eyesight. "There had been firecrackers going off for 42 overs but they were going off in the stands which didn't worry me too much," the fast-bowler said.

"But then one exploded only a couple of feet from my head and I was worried about my eyes and sight all the time. I was just hoping that if I had to go for a catch down there that I wouldn't get one of those things going off right in my face. It was a pretty scary thing for me to deal with.

"I also had my glasses on top of my head and was conscious of the fact that if one of those firecrackers goes off right next to your eyes it could cause you permanent damage to your sight."

Meanwhile Australian Cricket Board chief Malcolm Speed revealed that Steve Waugh had been told to lead his team from the field in the event of trouble, and that would remain the case in the future.

"Crowd invasions, fireworks and other missiles being thrown onto the field have no place whatsoever in the game of cricket," he said. "I would have no problem whatsoever with our team coming off the field again if there was any further trouble. That was the clear instruction that had been given to Steve and he willingly accepted that."