Bangladesh’s cricket authorities on Friday (August 26) breathed a sigh of relief as England announced that their tour to the nation would go ahead as planned.
The tour was thrown into doubt after an extremist attack on an upscale Dhaka cafe saw 20 — mostly foreign — hostages killed.
However, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed the tour on Thursday, ending weeks of speculation over the fate of the series which includes two Test and three one-day matches in October.
The confirmation followed a visit to Bangladesh by an ECB security team, which on Thursday briefed the England players about the situation in Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong — the venues of the tour.
“I always had a hunch that England would come and there are a few reasons for that,” Nazmul Hassan, the Bangladesh Cricket Board president, told reporters in Dhaka. “England always send their team. Even in India, they continued playing (after the 2008 attack in Mumbai). So England are not a team that bow their head down to terrorist activities.”
Nazmul promised to provide security not just to the team, but also to visiting media and English fans.
“We will arrange security for them no matter where they are, be it in the stadium or next to the hotel, wherever,” he promised. “This is the kind of mental readiness we have. We believe that there won’t be any problem with regards to this England tour.
“The Barmy Army [England’s support group] had contacted us and we immediately told the Bangladesh high commission to ensure that their visas aren’t delayed. We also asked for a list of those who are coming so that we can help them out.”
England are due to arrive in Bangladesh on September 30, with their schedule also including three warm-up matches – one before the ODIs and two ahead of the Tests. They are set to leave Bangladesh on November 2 ahead of a five-Test series in India starting the following week.
Australia cancelled their tour of Bangladesh in October for security reasons and then withdrew their side from the Under-19 World Cup in the country at the start of this year. England, however, fielded a team in the youth tournament.
“ICC will instigate own security investigations”
David Richardson, the International Cricket Council chief executive, has welcomed the decision of the ECB to go ahead with the tour of Bangladesh.
“It is important to the global game of cricket that it can be played safely in as many countries as possible. The world in which we live means we all face threats wherever we are in the world,” he noted in a press statement on Saturday. “Where those threats are considered higher, cricket, like other sports, undertakes extensive security assessments in determining whether or not matches can go ahead.
“Under the expert guidance of Reg Dickason, England have concluded that it is safe to tour Bangladesh. We welcome this decision understanding the extent of the intelligence behind it where the safety of players and staff is of utmost importance.
“Earlier this year, we held the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh with great success. Like the ECB, we had carried out all the relevant safety assessments prior to the tournament and concluded it was safe for everyone involved to play. Now the ECB has given the tour the go ahead, the ICC will instigate our own security investigations to ensure we are confident of the safety of our match officials. We would like to place on the record our thanks to the various security and Government agencies in both the UK and Bangladesh for their commitment to cricket being played safely.”