After confronting abusive MCC members in the Lord’s Long Room on Sunday, the first person Usman Khawaja looked towards for help was Frank Dimasi, the ex-Melbourne gangland cop who is charged with keeping Australia safe on this Ashes tour.
Dimasi has been the team’s head of security for 18 years and is trusted completely by the players, staff and management.
Security is being stepped up for this week’s third Ashes Test at Headingley in anticipation of a hostile reception from England fans enraged by the controversial stumping of Jonny Bairstow during the second Test at Lord’s last weekend.
It’s why Australia’s players will be reassured by the presence in their camp of a man who has dealt with far worse during his life than a few thousand abusive opposition supporters.
Compared to his previous career as a police officer and Australian federal agent dealing with serious organised crime and terrorism, Dimasi will take whatever happens across the rest of this Ashes tour in his stride.
Dimasi’s time tackling organised crime in Melbourne coincided with the most brutal gangland war in the city’s history, when 36 underworld figures were murdered over a 12-year period between 1998 and 2010.
Open conflict between gangs connected to the Calabrian Mafia (the “Ndrangheta”), the Russian mob and various other groups connected to Melbourne’s drug and prostitution trade led to years of bloodshed on the city’s streets.
It certainly puts the row over Bairstow’s stumping in its proper perspective.
The grounding Dimasi, known by his nickname of the Italian Stallion, had in counter-terrorism has also proved useful in his role with Cricket Australia, whom he joined in 2008.
The call whether to carry on with a tour of India in 2013, when terrorists detonated a bomb that killed 14 people in Hyderabad, the venue for the second Test, came down to Dimasi.
Alongside his team, he also worked hard to check and initiate all the security arrangements for the Australian team’s successful tour of Pakistan last year – something that wasn’t straightforward after New Zealand cancelled their tour of the country just six months previously because of an apparent security threat.
Dimasi has also had to deal with terrorist threats closer to home, specifically his old stomping ground of Melbourne. In 2016, a foiled Christmas Day terror plot put the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan in doubt.
Speaking at the time, Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc said of Dimasi: “I think it’s his 100th Test match coming up so he wouldn’t be there if he wasn’t good at what he does. Obviously, we hear things on the news but I’m sure he’ll keep us thoroughly informed if we need to know about anything.”
Walking along Edgbaston Road towards the players’ entrance, Lyon was serenaded by two punters chanting “you’re just a shit Moeen Ali”. Dimasi ushered Lyon away before returning to the two men and confronting them. “You’re not so tough on your own, are you?” he growled. The two men soon shut up and quickly retreated.
No wonder Australia’s players love him.