Extreme measures in place to protect Warner and Smith

Cricket's most notorious venue, 'The Bullring", is set to double its usual security presence for David Warner and Steve Smith's return to Africa.

Following the vile events of 2018, the Australian duo have been urged to report any personal abuse from the crowd to umpires in Friday's T20, with stadium management declaring a range of high tech cameras and a beefed up security team dubbed "The Men In Black" are ready to zero in on fans who cross the line.


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"If it's of a personal nature, we will deal with it. We have eight LED cameras around the stadium which can zoom in 30 times. We can zoom into that mole on your face," Stadium manager Cyril Martin told The Daily Telegraph.

"We then have the action guys, The Men In Black, we call them. They will move in quietly and position themselves (around the offending fan). If he persists, we have a zero tolerance rule. We will evict him."

Organisers are expecting a sell-out at The Wanderers, a ground with a reputation as the most vicious in world cricket, with Ben Stokes, Merv Hughes and Imran Tahir among those to have taken matters into their own hands in reacting to crowd abuse over the years.

In Cape Town in 2018, the day before the ball tampering incident occurred, Warner clashed with a fan who got in his face and abused him as he came off the field, and in the two previous Test matches his wife was the victim of despicable attacks.

The Wanderers usually has 20 security staff stationed around the perimeter of the ground, but it's understood that will be beefed up significantly on Friday night to as much as 35 or 40 men guarding the arena.

Martin revealed that if Warner or Smith make a complaint to umpires, a sophisticated action plan will kick into gear which will pinpoint abusive fans and evict them.

"We've increased the number of personnel on the perimeter. The security guard is the buffer between the spectator and the player. If he hears anything, (he's been told) be proactive and send a message to the (control) room, and say, 'listen, we have a potential problem here,'" said Martin.


Stadium security officers in South Africa will employ a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to crowd misbehaviour.
Stadium security officers in South Africa will employ a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to crowd misbehaviour.


"The player can inform the on-field umpires and then they will radio to the match referee who then connects them to the (control room). You see the quality of our cameras. They will say, 'that is where David Warner or Steve Smith for example is fielding, there's a guy there with a red shirt, we're zooming in on him, that's the guy.'"

Martin chaired a security meeting on Monday, where he invited Australian team security to outline any concerns on their part.

It's understood Australia are happy with the measures that have been put in place.

"People who say they (Warner and Smith) deserve what they get, that's not what we're about," said Martin.

Smith is expecting a torrid reception.

"No doubt it'll be hostile," he said.

At Port Elizabeth in 2018, the Test before Cape Town, fans were allowed into the ground with Sonny Bill Williams masks - a vile personal attack on Warner and his wife, Candice.

Martin said the ground would act immediately to remove any offensive signage or material, with cameras to constantly survey the ground.

On a different note, the Stadium is also on guard for Greenpeace activists, after South Africa's last Twenty20 against England at Centurion was interrupted by protesters, who were arrested and are set to go before the courts.

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