Bangladesh v Australia Tests
CA Head of Security due in Bangladesh
Monday meetings set to provide clearer picture regarding likelihood of Australia's Test tour
27 September 2015, 02:40 PM AEST
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland says there will be a clearer picture tomorrow (Monday) regarding whether the men’s national team can tour Bangladesh after their departure was last night postponed amid security concerns.
Australia's Test squad, led by new skipper Steve Smith, had been due to depart their various home ports on Monday with the full squad not assembling until arrival in Dhaka.
“(CA) Head of Security, Sean Carroll, is on his way to Bangladesh. He’ll be arriving very shortly to get an understanding of the state of things there,” Sutherland told reporters at Brisbane's National Cricket Centre.
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“Our position is that 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, and we’ll be endeavouring to get some undertakings and understanding of what the situation is in Bangladesh before we make further decisions in regard to the tour.
“It’s actually been a significant religious holiday in Bangladesh over the weekend.
“Meetings will commence on Monday and we’ll have a much better understanding of things from there.”
Bangladesh's administrative functions had shut down late last week as the country celebrates Eid-ul-Azha, the second largest Muslim festival. The celebrations passed without incident or violence and saw the country decked out in decorations with millions turning out on the streets.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued its latest security advice about Bangladesh on Friday, saying there was "reliable information" of a threat to Australian interests in the country.
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“The government came to us on Friday afternoon that they had some credible threats to western interests and on that basis, knowing that the team was not far away from leaving, that we should understand that there would be some alteration to the travel advice for Australians going to Bangladesh,” Sutherland said.
“The DFAT advice is for travellers who are 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 as well.
“Those things need to be weighed up in the circumstances, (and) that’s why our head of security is over therefrom this afternoon, will have meetings in the next couple of days and we’ll make some calls from there.
“I’ve spoken to my equivalent in Bangladesh … they understand our position, they understand that we’ve taken advice from our government and they will go to every length to provide whatever support is necessary, including arranging meetings for our head of security and others.”
With a raft of recent retirements and a challenging three-Test series against New Zealand only five weeks away, the two-Test series looms as a critical one for Australia’s new era.
Bangladesh meanwhile, haven’t played a Test against Australia since 2006, and are consequently desperate for the opportunity to host one of world cricket’s heavyweights.
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“It’s a very important tour for both Australia and Bangladesh,” Sutherland added. “Bangladesh are a team on the rise – their performances in recent times have been very, very good.
“From our perspective, we’ve got a young team under a new captain that’s very much looking forward to the opportunity to play in subcontinental conditions and it would be a shame for the tour not to go ahead.
“We’re very much hoping that it will, but the circumstances at the moment mean that we’ve made the decision to defer our departure.”
Australia featured in the World T20 in Bangladesh in March 2014 – a victory against the hosts their only win – but have not toured the country for a bilateral series since three ODIs in 2011, and have not played a Test there since April 2006
"Australians should be aware that normal travel in many parts of Dhaka is often not possible due to arbitrary acts of violence," DFAT states. "Bangladesh has experienced a number of terrorist incidents in the past and security agencies in Bangladesh continue to arrest people connected to terrorist organisations. Further attacks are possible, including against Western interests."
The government website also warns "political violence occurs regularly in Bangladesh" and said political violence in January of this year resulted in "violent incidents, including arson attacks took place across the country, resulting in death and injury".
Australia are scheduled to play a BCB XI in a three-day warm-up match starting October 3 in Fatullah before the first Test in Chittagong on October 9.
The second Test, in Dhaka, is scheduled for October 17.