The International Cricket Council (ICC) has stressed that security at this month’s U19 World Cup in Bangladesh is of the required standard after Cricket Australia today (Tuesday) withdrew its national team from the event because of concerns over the safety of its squad.
The event will take place from January 27 to February 14 but will go ahead without three-time winner Australia. In a statement, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the information the body had received surrounding security risks left it with no option but to withdraw its team from the tournament.
Cricket Australia also postponed a Test tour of Bangladesh in October, citing similar concerns over safety. Sutherland said: “Regrettably, the advice from our government suggests that the security threat to Australians travelling to Bangladesh remains as high now (as it did in October).
“Included in that is reliable information suggesting there is a high threat to Australian interests in Bangladesh. In the end, with all of the information we have received, we feel we had no alternative other than to make this difficult decision.”
Security provision for the tournament has been a concern, with the ICC Board formally confirming in October that Bangladesh would host the U19 World Cup subject to the development of an “appropriate security plan”. The ICC today maintained that it has done its upmost to ensure the safety and security of competing teams.
ICC chief executive David Richardson (pictured) said: “Whilst the ICC notes and respects the position of Cricket Australia, which we understand is based on advice received from the Australian government, we are obviously disappointed with the decision. 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.”
The ICC has invited Ireland to take the place of Australia. Ireland had finished runner-up at October’s qualifying event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan told the Reuters news agency that Australia’s withdrawal was “unfortunate”. “We are ensuring highest security,” he said. “We don't see any security issues in Bangladesh. You just can't stop games considering one or two incidents. Terror attacks are happening everywhere in the world. But games are taking place.”