Australia pullout clears Ireland for U-19 cricket World Cup

Melbourne/Dubai, Jan 5 (IANS) Australia’s decision to withdraw from the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh from January 27 citing security concerns on Tuesday prompted a “disappointed” International Cricket Council (ICC) to invite Ireland to replace the three-time champions.

Cricket Australia (CA) on Tuesday announced it has withdrawn from the 11th edition of the 16-nation tournament. CA said it has informed ICC and the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) of the decision. Last year, CA also pulled out of the senior squad’s tour to Bangladesh due to the same reasons.

ICC said the 19-day tournament will be hosted in Bangladesh as planned as it has put an “appropriate” security structure in place.

CA said “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 (in October)”.

CA chief executive Officer James Sutherland said on Tuesday 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 CA head of security Sean Carroll travelled to Dhaka last week with ICC security advisors to meet relevant officials, consider the detailed event security plan and seek further travel advice from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade representatives based in Bangladesh.

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.”

“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.”

Sutherland added CA will hold further discussions with the BCB.

ICC said they are satisfied with the arrangements in place.

“The ICC explained that its own security manager and an independent security agency had been working very closely with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and the Bangladesh security agencies, and that the planned security arrangements satisfactorily mitigate the risks identified such that it remains appropriate for the event to continue as planned,” ICC said in a statement on Tuesday.

ICC chief executive David Richardson said: “Whilst the ICC notes and respects the position of Cricket Australia, which we understand is based on an 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 that it is appropriate for event planning to continue as scheduled,” he added.

“Naturally, as part of that planning process, the ICC’s own security team, supported by an independent security agency, will continue to monitor closely the situation in Bangladesh, including all travel advisories provided by relevant government agencies.”

Richardson said world cricket’s governing body is optimistic Bangladesh will deliver a successful tournament.

“The ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup is an extremely important event on the ICC calendar, which has a reputation of producing international stars,” Richardson said.

“We remain confident that the ICC, in conjunction with the BCB, will be able to successfully deliver this event in Bangladesh.”

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