The 2023 ODI World Cup schedule has encountered several changes, raising concerns regarding security arrangements for some matches. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has expressed apprehensions about the Pakistan-England match on November 12, coinciding with the important Kali Puja festival in West Bengal. The CAB, along with local security agencies, has requested the ICC recce team to address these concerns. This comes after two prior changes to Pakistan’s schedule due to security issues, including the rescheduling of the India-Pakistan match from October 15 to 14 and the Sri Lanka-Pakistan match from October 12 to 10.
Security Concerns and Requests for Rescheduling
The initial date for the India-Pakistan match, October 15, coincided with the Hindu festival of Navaratri, leading to concerns raised by local security agencies in Ahmedabad. Consequently, the match was rescheduled to October 14 to ensure adequate security arrangements.
Similarly, the Pakistan-England match on November 12 now faces concerns due to Kali Puja celebrations in West Bengal. Kolkata Police has expressed its reservations about providing security for the match, and the CAB has forwarded these concerns to the ICC and BCCI.
CAB’s Stand and Meeting with Kolkata Police
Although the CAB president, Snehasish Ganguly, denied an “official request” for a change in schedule, senior office-bearers in CAB are aware of the security concerns raised by Kolkata Police. A senior CAB official, present during the ICC and BCCI inspection meeting, stated that Kolkata Police cited difficulties in providing security on Diwali, prompting the request for rescheduling. Whether the ICC will agree to another schedule change remains uncertain, given the numerous changes already made.
“Kolkata Police has cited concerns to provide security for the match slated on Diwali. We have informed the ICC and BCCI to reschedule it and if does not happen we would inform the chief minister,” a senior CAB office-bearer, who was part of the meeting with the 17-member ICC and BCCI inspection team, said.
In such a scenario, it remains to be seen whether the ICC agrees to another schedule change. CAB chief Ganguly gave a guarded response while talking to reporters after the ICC’s inspection and meeting that lasted for more than three hours.
“We have not yet got anything officially from the Kolkata Police,” Snehasish, elder brother of former BCCI president and India captain Sourav Ganguly, said. “Unless we get something officially, we can’t inform the ICC. The security issue is being taken care of by the Kolkata Police. That is not our lookout.”
ICC and B CCI’s Inspection and Renovation Work
An ICC team, led by events senior manager Sarah Edgar, inspected the Eden Gardens stadium, including the clubhouse, press box, and galleries. They also reviewed the ongoing full-scale renovations, which are expected to be completed before the deadline. While the ICC team expressed overall satisfaction with the progress, they highlighted minor issues in the washrooms and space constraints for the broadcast commentary box.
The security concerns surrounding the 2023 ODI World Cup schedule have led to multiple changes, raising questions about whether local security agencies were adequately consulted during the planning phase. The rescheduling of matches, including the India-Pakistan clash and the Pakistan-England match, has been necessary to ensure the safety of players and spectators during significant cultural and religious events. As the ICC and BCCI assess the situation, cricket enthusiasts eagerly await the revised schedule, hoping for a smooth and successful tournament. The ongoing renovation work at Eden Gardens is progressing well, with efforts to address the minor issues highlighted by the ICC inspection team. With a second round of inspection scheduled for September, all stakeholders are working diligently to deliver a world-class experience for fans and participants alike.