Feedback January 4, 2006

'Treating cricket fans as criminals'

Pedro Borren
Pedro Borren attended the ODI at Queenstown at the weekend and sent us his view of the new security measures implemented by New Zealand Cricket

Pedro Borren, one of our readers, attended the ODI at Queenstown at the weekend and sent us his view of the new security measures implemented by New Zealand Cricket

A full house at Queenstown ... but how many will come back next time? © AFP
I am writing on behalf of all those people who have attended the current one day series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. The topic of this letter is the over zealous security which NZC has employed for this series. I read an article on your website in which these tighter security measures were firstly defended by an official, and then attacked by former New Zealand wicketkeeper Warren Lees.

I live in Christchurch and drove down to Queenstown to watch the first ODI on New Years Eve and was very surprised at the length of the line to the main entrance. As we finally made it towards the front, the reasons for this delay became apparent. Every person entering the ground was being searched and any water bottles were being emptied. They were saying over the loud speaker that there were facilities to refill bottles with water inside the ground, which I'm sure there was some obscure tap somewhere, but after spending the whole day there I saw nothing of the sort.

Anyway, we had finally made it to the front of the line, when the pregnant woman, her husband and their child in front of us were confronted by a security guard who proceeded to empty the woman's water bottles on the ground, then, unbelievably, the man took the bread stick from the woman's bag, removed it from its wrapper and started to squeeze their lunch with his filthy mits whilst mumbling "you never know where people will hide alcohol these days".

This is one story from the dozens of examples of insane behaviour of the security that I overheard during the day. Every single person I spoke to felt they were out of line and if anything only put people in a more aggressive mood.

The official quoted in your story said: "for every one person who found the extra security measures a hassle, 15 or 20 more were saying how it had helped them feel safe and enjoy their day". Well, my friend, I think you could safely reverse those numbers around and still you wouldn't begin to understand the extent of people's annoyance.

I was back in Christchurch in time for the second ODI at Jade Stadium, but there was no way I was going through that harassment again. So I stayed at home and watched on TV. Seems that might be the way for others in the future if NZC persists with treating cricket fans as criminals. All my friends and family who went said it would be the last time.

It is my opinion that NZC has gone about tightening security in completely the wrong way. An ODI is not an 80-minute rugby match, it is a whole day, a day for the family to enjoy not only the cricket on the field, but time spent together in a friendly atmosphere. Anyone at the cricket could identify the small minority of people who may cause problems with their behaviour - go search and harass them if you have to, leave us to watch the cricket. Because otherwise, the half-empty stadiums we now see will be a thing of the past and there will be just a sprinkling of spectators left.