Australia postpone Bangladesh cricket tour over security fears

Melbourne, Oct 1 (IANS) Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced that it has been forced to postpone the upcoming away Test series against Bangladesh due to security reasons.

CA CEO James Sutherland said recent advice from the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and CA’s Head of Security about an increasing security risk for the Australian team in Bangladesh meant this month’s matches could not proceed.

An independent security assessment confirmed there is a risk of terrorism in Bangladesh targeting Australian nationals.

“This has been a very difficult decision. Following the most recent information from Australian Government agencies and our own security advisors, we have decided that, regrettably, we have no alternative but to postpone the tour,” Sutherland said in a statement.

“Over the last few days we have sought to obtain as much information as possible about the risks for Australians travelling to Bangladesh. We had hoped that the security concerns would fade, but unfortunately the advice we have received from government, our own security experts and independent security advisors has clearly indicated that there are now high risks to our people should they make the trip,” the CEO added.

He also expressed sympathy for Bangladesh cricket and its supporters, but said the safety of the Australian players and staff was the top priority.

“We have worked tirelessly to try to find a way for the tour to proceed, but in the end it was simply not possible. Given the situation, we have now advised the BCB and the International Cricket Council (ICC) of our decision. We understand that this decision will be very disappointing for the cricket community in Bangladesh,” Sutherland said.

“However, from an Australian perspective, the safety of our players and officials is our highest priority. We will work with the BCB to reschedule the tour as soon as possible.”

CA was approached by ASIO and DFAT last Friday with urgent advice that it had identified a potential security risk to Australian interests in Bangladesh.

This resulted in the CA delaying the team’s departure for the tour which was scheduled for September 28. In that time CA Head of Security Sean Carroll flew to Dhaka for meetings with the Bangladesh Government, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), the Australian High Commission and with DFAT.

Sutherland also praised the BCB and the Bangladesh government for their co-operation.

“Bangladesh is clearly on the rise as a cricketing nation and our new-look Australian team was looking forward to the challenge of playing this series. From the moment we raised our concerns with the BCB, they have been cooperative and most understanding of the situation. Together with the Bangladeshi Government, they left no stone unturned in trying to allay our concerns and we are most appreciative of that,” Sutherland said.

Cricket Australia and the BCB both exist to stage international cricket. It is therefore so disappointing that external influences have affected a tour that many Bangladeshis and Australians were looking forward to.”

The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) Chief Executive Alistair Nicholson said: “The decision by Cricket Australia to postpone the tour is the correct one in these difficult circumstances, particularly from a player safety and welfare point of view.”

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