Australia delay tour
Bangladesh's cricketing fraternity held its breath as Cricket Australia's (CA) head of security Sean Carroll arrived in the country yesterday morning to review the security situation with regards to the two-match Test series due to begin next month.
After landing at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Carroll's first stop was at the Australian High Commission where he held a meeting with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hasan Papon.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Papon indicated that the BCB was ready to extend its wholehearted support to the CA's security team.
“He, along with his team, will speak to different security agencies and only after that we can come to a decision,” said Papon.
“I have said that they can speak to any security agency they want to. No matter what I say regarding the situation, they won't believe me because I neither belong to any security agency nor to any intelligence department,” added the BCB president.
When asked if the BCB reckoned that the tour could go on as scheduled, Papon said, “I still don't think there is any harm. But it depends on what information they have. Till now they haven't told me anything about it.”
Soon after the meeting, BCB officials stated that Carroll met up with the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and the National Security Intelligence (NSI). Today Carroll has a meeting scheduled at the Home Ministry.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan had yesterday ruled out Australia's “militancy fear” as “baseless”. “There is no such threat of militancy in Bangladesh,” he told reporters at the secretariat.
The Australian High Commission released an official statement which read: “On 25 September, the travel advice for Bangladesh was reissued to advise that militants may be planning to target Australian interests in Bangladesh. The level of the advice has not changed -- it remains at 'Exercise a high degree of caution' (level 2 of 4).
“We are naturally aware of Cricket Australia's decision to delay the departure of the Australian tour to Bangladesh, and we remain in close contact with Cricket Australia and Bangladesh authorities on this matter.”
Hope, however, isn't lost as yet. CA CEO James Sutherland, during a press conference in Brisbane yesterday, noted that the travel advice was for ordinary Australians travelling in Bangladesh, and the Australian cricket team would have extremely high levels of security if the tour went ahead.
"The advice is for ordinary civilians who are travelling on holidays or on business in Bangladesh, which is very different to the Australian cricket team, which is afforded the highest level of security by Bangladesh police and armed forces while they're there. Those things need to be weighed up in the circumstances," Sutherland said.
“Our position is we want the tour to go ahead as planned. This has obviously come very suddenly and we've needed to make this response. Our preferred position is to continue with the tour, but the safety and security of our players and staff is the absolute priority and the first priority for us is to secure that,” he added.
As per the original schedule, the Australian contingent was supposed to arrive here today. They were scheduled to play a three-day warm up match against BCB XI in Fatullah on October 3 before the two Test matches -- Oct 9-13 in Chittagong and Oct 17-21 in Dhaka.