First it was the senior Australian team pulling out of Bangladesh tour over security concerns, then Cricket Australia decided to keep its juniors away from the Under-19 World Cup in Dhaka, and now after the recent terror attack in the Bangladesh capital, what the country’s cricket board needs is the International Cricket Council (ICC) standing right behind in support.
Seven armed men first took hostage and then killed 20 civilians in Dhaka on July 1 and the tremors were immediately felt in the voice of England captain Eoin Morgan, who has to lead his team to Bangladesh later this year.
Security is paramount and that’s the reason why the terror-torn Pakistan has become a no-go zone for international cricket. Bangladesh, after India, has the most crazy following for cricket in a country, and any sport thrives on such enthusiasm with crowd bobbing in the stands.
Cricket can’t afford to miss out on that, but the recent terror attack has led to a “big concern".
“We’ve always left the big decisions to the ECB. They write reports, send guys out to see if it’s safe, then come back to the players to see if they’re happy or unhappy; but certainly it’s a concern at the moment," Morgan had said on Monday.
That should set the alarm bells ringing.
Two of the strongest cricket nations - Australia and England - have their reservations against touring Bangladesh. It’s not in the best interest of the game. At a time when Test cricket is struggling to fill up stands, losing fan-base is not a thing ICC can afford.
And the reasons have nothing to do with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), or for that matter any board. Everyone does its best to work in sync with the government and provide foolproof security to the visiting teams.
The nasty head of terror just finds different ways to raise its head in today’s world where it’s difficult to endorse any place as safe.
The BCB is taking stock of the situation, and while doing that, the board’s president, Nazmul Hassan, sounded very rational about Morgan’s reaction.
“I have seen England’s reaction, which is quite normal. We would have done the same thing if we were in their position," Hassan was quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
“England are coming after three months, by which time the situation in Bangladesh will get better. We will strengthen our security. If we can ensure that, cricket should not be a problem."
Last year, Pakistan took a baby step towards return of international cricket in the country. Zimbabwe visited the subcontinent nation for a short limited-overs tour, and it all went smoothly with watertight security.
But bilateral tours, while decided by the ICC’s Future Tours Programme, go ahead at the discretion of the two boards involved. If one feels touring the other is risking its team’s security, then it can pull out.
Australia’s pull-out from the U-19 World Cup was an exception, where the tournament was conducted by the ICC and not the Bangladesh board. But in the case of bilateral fixtures, the ICC finds itself a bit handcuffed.
“We stand by our decision to postpone tours to Bangladesh due to serious concerns about the safety and security of the Australian team and officials. We really feel for the Bangladeshi people and we hope that we can get back to Bangladesh soon," a Cricket Australia spokesperson told cricket.com.au.
However, when it comes to security concerns, little can one do - because it’s paramount to not risk human life.
On those grounds, Bangladesh’s fear of being ‘abandoned’ are not unfounded; but the ICC and world cricket should stand by when the country needs it the most.