England missing the vibe
If you are in London and expect frantic activities centring around the ICC Champions Trophy -- the most important global cricketing event after the World Cup -- all around the mega city, you will certainly feel very disappointed.
As the travelling Bangladeshi journalists, quite large in number, moved along the green channel of Heathrow Airport on Saturday evening after embarking on a long flight from Dhaka, they curiously looked around for a few banners stuck on the wall, primarily promoting the Champions Trophy.
But the images on the wall ranged from a vendor to a railway worker, attired in traditional English costumes, welcoming the arriving guests and there was hardly any space for cricket or the showpiece event in particular. There was not even any indication of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Juventus that will take place in Cardiff on June 3 in a hectic week of sporting activity across the United Kingdom in one of the busiest international airports.
There was another surprise in store for the travelling reporters. After enduring a three-hour hassle at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, where everybody was talking about security concerns in the wake of a terrorist attack in Manchester last week where 22 people were killed, the Heathrow experience was pleasantly smooth for the travelling reporters. It did not even take half an hour for them to cross immigration.
The atmosphere was so normal that no one even felt any security issues. But had it been the case in Bangladesh the imposing presence of those gun-toting security personnel from airport to every key point in Dhaka would have given you a scary feeling. When we reached the Grange City hotel, the temporary abode for all eight participating teams while they are in London, in the evening after a one-hour taxi ride skating through huge traffic, we did not find even a uniformed police guarding the entrance of the hotel, which is located very close to London Tower. It looked like any other hotel even with the Indian and the New Zealand team on board.
It was only on Sunday morning that a few uniformed police, brandishing automatic weapons, took their position at the hotel entrance when the India team bus left the hotel to play their scheduled practice game against New Zealand at the Oval.
Although India have a strong fan following across the cricketing world, there were only a few Indian fans roaming around the hotel to have a glimpse of their stars.
Even though the hotel is very close to East London, where a large Bangladesh community lives, not even a single Bangladesh expat was around to greet the Tigers.
The whole scenario might give someone the feeling that the security issues were not as imposing as should have been the case, especially after the Manchester attack. But the beauty of England security is that it was subtle. More importantly, it is done in a way so that it doesn't disturb the mobility of the masses. Pedestrians were even walking along the footpath when the Bangladesh team members were disembarking from the bus. This is something we can't simply imagine in Bangladesh, where roads are blocked for hours for the smooth passage of a visiting team's bus.