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September 12, 2002 | 0035 IST

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Stage set for 'clean'
Champions Trophy

Faisal Shariff in Colombo

'No mobile phones.'

'ACU Hotline 077-637575.'

These are some of the signboards put up in the players' dressing rooms at the Premadasa International stadium, in Colombo, the venue for the opening ceremony of the biennial ICC Champions Trophy, which begins on Thursday.

Similar boards are there at the Sinhalese Sports Ground -- the headquarters of Sri Lankan cricket -- the other venue for the 12-nation tournament. It is the biggest cricket event ever hosted by Sri Lanka, a country ravaged by 20 years of war between the government and the rebels.

Under the new ICC regulations, the Anti-Corruption Unit has clearly sent out the signal to host a clean tournament. Media kits have the number to call and report any suspicious behaviour during the course of the tournament. The use of mobile phones in the dressing rooms has strictly been disallowed. There can be only one mobile phone carried by the team manager during the course of a game.

The $1.15 million tournament is easily the most secure tournament in the history of ICC and Sri Lanka. Taj Samudra, the hotel that hosts all the 12 nations along with the many administrators, officials and support staff is heavily guarded, though it does not show. One can stroll into the hotel without being checked or having to pass through any metal detectors. The players mingle with fans and the media in the hotel lobby with minimum fuss.

"The idea is to have a relaxed environment without having to compromise on the security aspect. Our security personnel and four ICC security managers are monitoring the hotel," explains ICC tournament media manager Mark Harrison.

The hotel security was handed over to the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, which, in conjunction with the Ministerial Security Division (MSD) - the third most reputed and elite security service in the country), presented a plan to the ICC. The ACU approved of the plan to staff 200 MSD police personnel in the hotel. The men, attired in white suits, stroll around the hotel lobby and are stationed on each floor where the players are hosted.

Niresh Eliatamby, the media liaison officer of the BCCSL, informed that the entire floor has been taken over by the ICC for the players and no rooms are available for any of the other guests.

The telephone operators of the 300-room hotel are under special instructions not to allow phone calls to prevent the players from being disturbed. Indeed, the arrangements for the tournament seem just perfect but for the odd goof-up, like reputed umpire David Shepherd driving in from the airport and finding there was no reservation made for him in the hotel.

The ACU has applauded the arrangements made by the BCCSL. Despite that there are four ICC security managers (Lt Col Nuruddin Khawaja of Pakistan, John Rhodes of Australia, Bob Smalley of England and N S Virk of India surveying the hotels and the stadiums.

"Even in Sharjah, there was just one surveillance officer throughout the tournament but here we have more anti-corruption surveillance than at any venue ever," says Mark Harrison.

Besides the four security officers, Geoff Rees, the chief investigator of the ACU, is doing the rounds in the hotel. Lord Condon, the chief of the ACU, will be down in Colombo during the semi-final stage of the tournament.

The ACU has also briefed most of the teams over the past 12 months about the code of conduct to be implemented during the tournaments.

There will be restricted access to the dressing rooms and playing areas, with picture boards of the players and team officials outside the dressing rooms. Barriers and fences have been put up to protect the players as per the ACU requirements. Outsiders will find it nearly impossible to access the player areas. So much so that the 'All access' passes have been allotted after the strict scrutiny of the ACU.


The tournament has had two earlier editions played in Dhaka (Bangladesh) in 1998 and Nairobi (Kenya) in 2000. South Africa won the tournament without losing a single game in the tournament in Dhaka, beating West Indies in an epic final and taking home the trophy after its gold medal performance in the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Jacques Kallis was the star performer for the Proteas, snapping five West Indian wickets for 30 runs in just 7.3 overs. He was adjudged the man of the match and the series for his all-round performance.

New Zealand won their maiden one-day title in Nairobi, beating an upbeat India in the final. They were powered by a scintillating hundred from the injured Chris Cairns.

The opening ceremony:

Sri Lanka prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be present at the opening ceremony, which will see more than a thousand dancers and hundreds of flag bearers along with two hundred drummers will take part. It will end with the theme song for the event, performed by Sri Lanka's acclaimed group, Wild Fire.

The opening ceremony will be followed by the opening day-night encounter between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.


The ICC Champions Trophy has undergone a change in format as well as name. From a straight knock-out stage the tournament has been transformed to a league four pool tournament.

Each pool will contain three teams with each team playing both its pool opponents and the winners of each pool progressing straight into the semi-final round.

A hectic schedule will see 15 matches played over a short period of 18 days with the winner taking home the prize-money of US$300,000. The semi-final winners both earn $125,000 while the pool match winners $50,000. The participation for each team is $165,000.

With six months to go for the World Cup in South Africa, the Champions Trophy is a dress rehearsal for the big event, though the winner, on the slow tracks of Sri Lanka, would not have any notions of carrying the favourites tag for the World Cup on the hard bouncy tracks of South Africa.

This is a tournament of many firsts. It is the first time that the tournament is being played in a Test-playing nation. Both the earlier tournaments were played in non-Test playing nations to generate income for the ICC development programs. It is also the first time technology will be used to support the umpires on any decision they are unsure of. The field umpires will be allowed to ask the third umpire for LBW decisions to ascertain if the ball pitched outside leg-stump or if there was an inside edge. Bonus points will also not be used for the tournament.

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