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It’s bulletproof buses, rooftop snipers and guards with machine guns as the England cricket team returns to Pakistan for the first time in 17 YEARS with presidential-level security
- England squad has been given VVIP protection – level given to heads of state
- Over 300 security personnel are on site at England’s team hotel
- Roads leading to Karachi National Stadium are closed on match days
- The three-week tour comes as Pakistan grapples with a humanitarian crisis
A team from England arrived on Pakistani soil for the first time in 17 years on Thursday with gifts but wrapped in presidential-level security.
Within hours of a 20-man squad landed in Karachi for a seven-match Twenty20 series, it was announced that the players had donated a five-figure sum to the country’s official flood fund and their ECB bosses were doubling it. .
The three-week tour comes as Pakistan grapples with a humanitarian crisis that has plunged a third of the country into a ‘monster’ monsoon season that has affected an estimated 33 million people.
England captain Jos Buttler at a packed media conference in Pakistan on Thursday
At a media conference that drew more than 60 local reporters and two dozen television cameras, England captain Jos Buttler explained that they wanted to play a ‘little part’ with their aid money, adding: ‘We hope our presence here will help matters. could improve a bit. little by little and get people excited by watching us play cricket. Sport has a great power to unite people.’
England last played in Pakistan in 2005 and were set to return 12 months ago, until they followed New Zealand’s hasty departure for security reasons with a cancellation of their own, citing concerns about their players’ “mental and physical well-being” prior to the match. the match. Ashes – a decision that the Pakistan Cricket Board labeled as ‘disrespectful’.
On Thursday morning, they arrived with VVIP protection – the level given to heads of state.
A team from England arrived on Pakistani soil for the first time in 17 years on Thursday
The PCB has turned in half a dozen of their bulletproof minibuses for daily travel, and more than 300 security personnel are on duty around the team hotel, including armed plainclothes officers and machine-gun guards.
On match days, the roads leading to Karachi’s National Stadium are closed, snipers are strategically placed on rooftops, and a helicopter follows their journey. Shops, offices and gas stations in the area are ordered to close.
“Visually it seems excessive, but of course it’s there to make sure everything runs smoothly,” said Buttler, who was on an equally safety-heavy tour of Bangladesh in 2016.
England squad has been given VVIP protection – the level given to heads of state
“That’s the first challenge as players, it’s visually very different from what you’re used to. After a day or two you get used to it, focus on the cricket and look forward to playing.”
Buttler added that the group had no reservations about travel after a presentation by ECB security adviser Reg Dickason last week.
International cricket has gradually returned to Pakistan after the terrorist ambush of the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore 13 years ago.
During that period England played their series against the Pakistanis in 2012 and 2015 in the United Arab Emirates and so this trip plus three pre-Christmas tests, after a successful tour of Australia this spring, represents Pakistan’s full reintegration as host country into the international game.