Bangladesh hopeful of Australia cricket team arriving

Dhaka, Sep 28 (IANS) Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal hopes the Australian cricket team will be in Bangladesh for its tour as per schedule.

“We’re fully prepared for the cricketers. I hope the Australian cricket team will come as scheduled,” he said after a meeting on Monday with a team of Australian officials now in the country to assess the security situation, reports

However, neither side committed themselves on whether a decision had been reached.

Asked whether the Test series was on or off, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hasan, who attended the meeting, said, “Can’t say anything specific right now. There is still time. The series can be held on schedule if the Australian team comes with two days in hand.”

A four-member Australian team, led by Cricket Australia (CA) Head of Security Sean Carroll, arrived at the home ministry on Monday morning to meet the minister.

Bangladesh Police’s Additional Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mokhlesur Rahman, RAB Director General Benazir Ahmed, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia and Australian High Commissioner in Dhaka Greg Wilcock also took part in the 30-minute meeting.

The home minister told reporters, “We’ve told them about our safety measures and assured them that they won’t face any security risk in Bangladesh.”

Stressing that both countries loved cricket, High Commissioner Wilcock said they had a discussion with Bangladesh officials following an Australian government “message” that raised concerns about their cricketers’ safety.

But he declined to say anything more about the Australian team’s arrival.

Steven Smith-led Australia were supposed to reach Dhaka on Monday for a two-Test series.

The first Test was scheduled for Oct 9 in Chittagong and the second on Oct 17 in Dhaka. A three-day warm-up match against BCB XI on Oct 3 was also part of the tour itinerary.

But they delayed their planned departure after Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued a warning on Friday, saying that militants in Bangladesh could be planning an attack on the tourists.

The DFAT, which provides travel advice to Australians planning to go abroad, in its notice said, “There is reliable information to suggest that militants may be planning to target Australian interests in Bangladesh.”

It also advised Australian officials in Bangladesh to limit their movements in public places.

After Monday’s meeting, BCB chief Nazmul Hasan said, “We’ve told them that the cricketers will get VVIP security. We also told them, by way of example, about the measures taken during the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.”

The Australian security assessment team would now inform higher-ups about their findings, he said, hoping the issue would be resolved.

After the DFAT’s warning, CA security chief Sean Carroll flew to Dhaka on Sunday to assess the prevailing security situation and the measures planned.

He also held discussions with two Bangladeshi detective agencies.

The BCB chief said he was not sure why the foreign ministries of the two countries were not in touch on the security issues.

“We were surprised by the sudden decision taken only two days before their departure (for Dhaka),” he said.

He added, “I’ve said earlier and will say again – Bangladesh is a safe country for cricket. India, Pakistan and South Africa came and played very recently. Nothing has happened since then for them (Australians) to put off or cancel their tour.”

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