British paper casts further doubts
A report on British newspaper The Telegraph's website has cast further doubts over England's scheduled tour of Bangladesh in October. The security concerns, according to the report published on The Telegraph's website late on Monday, was with travel within the cities of Dhaka and Chittagong rather than the hotels where the team will stay or the grounds where they will play.
The report also revealed that the fate of the tour is 'expected to be decided this week and to hinge on the England and Wales Cricket Board security advisor Reg Dickason'.
A three-man security delegation -- security advisor Reg Dickason, Professional Cricketers Association chief executive David Leatherdale and ECB's director of cricket operations John Carr -- from the ECB left Bangladesh last Saturday after a four-day inspection of the relevant areas, and the buzz regarding the tour in Bangladeshi cricket circles was a positive one at the time of their departure.
Security doubts were first cast over the tour in the aftermath of the July 1 terrorist attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan which claimed the lives of 20 civilians and two police officers.
Although not quoting any member of the security delegation directly, the report did say that “It is understood that Dickason's chief concern is not so much the hotels where England will be staying in Dhaka and Chittagong, or the grounds in those two cities, as they can be cordoned off by the police and military.
“The most potentially dangerous parts of a cricket tour are the journeys from the airport to the team hotel, and from the team hotel to the ground, especially in crowded Asian cities where it is humanly impossible to secure all the buildings overlooking the roads.”
The security team were given every assurance of safety by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and concerned government agencies. It has also been learnt that those within the Bangladesh cricket establishment draw confidence in security provisions from the safety arrangements that have been offered to teams in the past -- during the numerous bilateral series hosted here and also multi-national events like the Asia Cups (2012, 2014 and 2016), the 2014 World Twenty20, the 2011 World Cup, etc.
“The ECB has not told us anything officially, so we cannot make any comments,” said BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury when asked about the report in The Telegraph.
The England cricket team are not strangers to playing in volatile regions. In November 2008 they were playing an ODI series in India -- an Asian country -- when the Mumbai terror attacks took place. The two remaining ODIs were cancelled but England, having gone home immediately after the incident which included assaults on five-star hotels Taj Mahal and Oberoi, returned for the two Tests a fortnight later. The second Test was shifted from Mumbai.
Barmy, willing and able
Meanwhile, English cricket fan group Barmy Army, members of which are regular and boisterous fixtures wherever England play, has contacted the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) to inquire about the logistics if and when they arrive.
“They contacted us asking about where they can stay during the tour and we told them about hotels where they will get adequate security,” BCB media committee chairman Jalal Yunus told The Daily Star yesterday.
The Barmy Army are a semi-organised fan group, and it seems their eagerness to see some action is not diminished by security fears. In that, they have much in common with the Bangladeshi fan.