Cricket Australia (CA) announced today that due to concern about the safety and security of the Australian men’s under-19 squad and its management, it has withdrawn from the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh, due to begin on 27 January.
This is a huge setback for Bangladesh cricket, as well as world cricket.
This decision could well have something to do with the security situation not only in Bangladesh, but also in India, particularly the terrorist attack on an Indian Air Force base in Faridkot a couple of days ago.
CA has informed the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) of the decision.
CA Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said that since postponing Australia’s Test tour of Bangladesh for safety reasons in October, it has monitored the security situation closely and sought regular updates from the Australian Government regarding the under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh.
He said that CA Head of Security Sean Carroll travelled to Dhaka last week with ICC security advisors to meet with relevant officials, consider the detailed event security plan and seek further travel advice from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade representatives based in Bangladesh.
Mr Sutherland said: “We have always maintained that the safety and security of Australian teams and officials is our number-one priority.
“For some time we have been working closely with ICC security advisors and monitoring the security situation in Bangladesh and have been keeping our players, officials and the players’ parents as up to date as possible.
“Regrettably, the advice from our Government suggests that the security threat to Australians travelling to Bangladesh remains as high now as it was when we postponed the Test team’s tour of that country late last year.
“Included in that is reliable information suggesting there is a high threat to Australian interests in Bangladesh and the knowledge that the Australian Government has authorised the dependants of posted diplomatic staff in Bangladesh to return home to Australia.
“In the end, with all of the information and advice we have received, we feel we had no alternative other than to make this difficult decision.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and we apologise for the inconvenience this may create for the organisers of the tournament – in particular the ICC and BCB.
“In advising the BCB, we have reaffirmed our desire to get back to Bangladesh to play cricket as soon as possible and will continue to discuss this with them in the coming months.
“We also know that this is a very disappointing outcome for our young players, who will have been looking forward to this event with great anticipation.”
Mr Sutherland said that although the squad will not compete in the World Cup, it will travel to the United Arab Emirates next week to contest a tri-series of warm-up matches against Pakistan and New Zealand.
“The ICC Under-19 World Cup is a very important part of our program for talented players of this age. It gives our young players extremely valuable international experience, so withdrawing from this year’s tournament is highly disappointing on a number of fronts.
“The warm-up matches against Pakistan and New Zealand in the UAE will still provide them with some valuable experiences in foreign conditions, even if isn’t in the tournament itself.”