A suspect turns victim
So the fear of the millions of Bangladesh cricket fans turned real on Thursday when Cricket Australia postponed the Aussies' two-Test series against the Tigers citing security concerns.
"After six days of extensive deliberations and research, we've come to the conclusion that we have no other alternative than to postpone our tour to Bangladesh," Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said in an official handout. This statement is not something new as far as the Australian cricket team is concerned. There has been an instance of the Aussies pulling out from Sri Lanka during the 1996 World Cup.
But for Bangladesh it's the first instance a cricket team has postponed its scheduled trip, the far reaching impact of which may be debatable but one thing at the moment is strongly visible -- it bleeds Bangladesh cricket.
While justifying the decision Sutherland said, "It's not really appropriate for me to go into specific detail on this. But all I can say is that the threats were credible and real and targeted, not only against Westerners but against Australians."
He was actually referring to last Friday's security warning from the Australian government for its citizens in Bangladesh that was replicated by the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada on Monday when an Italian aid worker was gunned down in Dhaka, with multiple international media agencies since reporting that Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
Sutherland also termed Bangladesh's wholehearted effort as 'nothing but outstanding' after the government promised to provide the touring Australian team with the kind of security reserved for the heads of states.
But that outstanding effort fell short of convincing Australia to tour a country that has been widely acclaimed as a very welcoming host and a safe place be it a bilateral series, an ACC or ICC event.
Bangladesh is not immune to security threats, which is a cause of concern for every country on the planet. The killing of an Italian aid worker in Dhaka's diplomatic zone on Monday was something which might have prompted Australia's decision. We deplore the killing in strongest possible terms and want the Bangladesh government do everything in its power to bring the killers to justice.
But at the same time didn't we expect a responsible reaction from all quarters including the foreign media and international agencies to cross-check a questionable claim from SITE that the attack on the Italian was carried out by ISIS?
We also do not rule that out but there is a thin line between a suspect and a convict. Unfortunately the suspect of a security concern eventually became a victim. And Bangladesh cricket has become the biggest victim for committing something beautiful this year -- a brilliant performance in the World Cup down under followed by three outstanding and trouble-free home series against the likes of Pakistan, India and South Africa.
We don't need to say how safe Bangladesh is when it comes to playing cricket and our biggest pride is that we don't like empty seats whenever or wherever an international cricket match is played in this sports fanatic country, perhaps the second best after India. We can proudly claim that there is not a single instance of a security breach ever since Bangladesh hosted the inaugural Champions Trophy in 1998.
After Australian's decision the world will definitely highlight the postponement of the tour focusing on the security concerns.
But is there anyone out there to explain why the image that Bangladesh cricket, that has been built over the years with a lot of hard work, dedication, passion and with some considerable support of Cricket Australia, is blown out of proportion in a whisker?