themorningbellbd.com sports desk, Jan 5: Australia have pulled out of the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh due to concerns over player safety, reports cricket.com.au.
Australia’s senior men’s side postponed their scheduled tour of Bangladesh in October due to security fears and CA have monitored the situation in the country ever since.
Cricket Australia’s head of security Sean Carroll met with cricket and government officials in Bangladesh last week before reporting back to CA in Melbourne.
Having also consulted with the Australian government, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland says the decision was made to withdraw from the tournament.
“We have always maintained that the safety and security of Australian teams and officials is our number-one priority,” Sutherland said in a statement.
“For some time we have been working closely with ICC security advisors and monitoring the security situation in Bangladesh and have been keeping our players, officials and the players’ parents as up to date as possible.
“Regrettably, the advice from our Government suggests that the security threat to Australians travelling to Bangladesh remains as high now as it was when we postponed the Test team’s tour of that country late last year.
“Included in that is reliable information suggesting there is a high threat to Australian interests in Bangladesh.”
Sutherland added that families of diplomatic staff in Bangladesh had also been authorised by the Australian government to return home.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and we apologise for the inconvenience this may create for the organisers of the tournament – in particular the ICC and BCB (Bangladesh Cricket Board).”
It is unknown whether or not other nations will follow Australia’s lead and also withdraw from the tournament.
Australia had been named in Group D for the 16-nation tournament – due to start in Chittagong on January 27 – alongside India, Nepal and New Zealand.
The 15-man squad will still travel to Dubai as scheduled this week for a tri-series of matches against New Zealand and Pakistan, with Australia’s first match to be on Sunday.
“In advising the BCB, we have reaffirmed our desire to get back to Bangladesh to play cricket as soon as possible and will continue to discuss this with them in the coming months,” Sutherland said.
“We also know that this is a very disappointing outcome for our young players, who will have been looking forward to this event with great anticipation.
“The ICC Under-19 World Cup is a very important part of our program for talented players of this age.
“It gives our young players extremely valuable international experience, so withdrawing from this year’s tournament is highly disappointing on a number of fronts.
“The warm-up matches against Pakistan and New Zealand in the UAE will still provide them with some valuable experiences in foreign conditions, even if isn’t in the tournament itself.”
The scheduled departure of Australia’s men’s team for their October tour was delayed when the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade informed CA they had “reliable information” about a possible security risk.
The warning came as somewhat of a surprise given South Africa, India and Pakistan had all toured Bangladesh earlier in the year without incident.
But DFAT’s warning was quickly replicated by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, who followed suit in warning their citizens of possible militant attacks in the country.
CA sent a three-man security delegation to Dhaka to meet with the highest levels of Bangladeshi government and security organisations. After further discussions with the Australian government and the Australian Cricketer’s Association, it was decided that the tour would be postponed.
The International Cricket Council said it would continue to prepare for the tournament and had invited Ireland’s Under-19 team to fill the place left by Australia in the tournament.
“Whilst the ICC notes and respects the position of Cricket Australia, which we understand is based on an advice received from the Australian Government, we are obviously disappointed with the decision,” a statement from ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said.
“The ICC takes its responsibilities around the safety and security of ICC events extremely seriously. And taking into consideration the full and unequivocal support of the Bangladesh government that has been afforded to us at the highest level and through all local security agencies, the advice we have received from our own and independent security experts, and the robust security plan that has been developed, the ICC remains of the view the it is appropriate for event planning to continue as scheduled.
“Naturally, as part of that planning process, the ICC’s own security team, supported by an independent security agency, will continue to monitor closely the situation in Bangladesh, including all travel advisories provided by relevant government agencies.”