Sunday, September 14, 2008

Australia wary after New Delhi terrorist attacks

Australia A tour to go ahead

  • The bombings will not affect Australia A's stay in India. The team face New Zealand A in the tri-series opener in Hyderabad tomorrow, and a top official with the team revealed that the players are raring to play.
  • "As of now the tour is going ahead," Justin Sternes, the team manager, told Cricinfo. "The players are pretty keen to go out there and play. I spoke to Cricket Australia (CA) to let them know what security measures we have in place, and our security advisor has been in touch with the board. So until we hear anything otherwise from CA, the tour will continue."

Cricket Australia will commission an urgent report from its long-term security adviser outlining the safety situation in India following a series of bomb blasts in New Delhi on Saturday that killed more than 20 people. The city is the venue for Australia's third Test, starting on October 29, and the terrorist attacks raise more safety issues after they decided not to tour Pakistan this month for the Champions Trophy, a stance which led to the postponement of the tournament.

Reg Dickason, the team's security manager, will work on the report with the Australian Cricketers' Association and Peter Young, Cricket Australia's public affairs manager, said he expected a decision would be made "in the next week or so". Michael Brown, Cricket Australia's general manager of cricket, will also speak with the Indian board, the Australian High Commission, which is based in New Delhi, and security agencies to gain information on travelling in the country.

"The fundamental principle that always comes first is the safety of the team and the team officials," Young said. "There's a standard process for every tour. Such is the way of the world these days that this process is completed before we go anywhere." A pre-tour assessment has already been done but if the concerns remain Cricket Australia will consider another inspection.

Police investigate the wreckage in the aftermath of one of the bomb blasts in New Delhi.

While the first Test is not until October 9 in Bangalore, the 15-man squad is due to leave next Sunday and play two warm-up matches in Jaipur and Hyderabad. Australia A are currently in Hyderabad, in southern India, preparing for a tri-series with teams from India and New Zealand.

Niranjan Shah, the secretary of the Indian board, said the BCCI was concerned by the explosions. "But I don't think it will have any impact on the coming Australia series," he told the Hindustan Times.

One of Cricket Australia's main reasons for its stance on Pakistan for the Champions Trophy and the earlier Test and one-day series, which were also postponed, was the terrorist threats to westerners. "The specific answer we were given on Pakistan was that it was not safe to go," Young said. "We will take advice on this situation and will make a decision. We expect that to be in the next week or so."

The Australian government's updated travel advice for India is "to exercise a high degree of caution because of the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups". The latest attacks were reportedly planned by the Indian Mujahideen group, but there have been other deadly explosions since May in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Bangalore.