Australia postpones Bangladesh tour amid safety concerns
Melbourne: Australia has postponed its cricket tour to Bangladesh because of concerns over player safety.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland on Thursday said the tour, scheduled to start with a warm-up match on Saturday, would not go ahead as planned after Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs identified a security risk.
Members of Australia's Test squad were sent back to their respective state sides on Wednesday and will now take part in the Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, which starts in Sydney on Monday.
Australia's 15-man squad had been scheduled to fly out for Bangladesh last Monday morning but were delayed after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade informed CA they had "reliable information" about a possible security risk.
The team was put on standby while CA sent a three-man security delegation to Dhaka to meet with the highest levels of Bangladeshi government and security organisations.
The trio returned to Australia on Tuesday night for further talks with DFAT and to report back to CA's board and the Australian Cricketers' Association.
Having considered the reports from the security delegation and the Australian government, Sutherland said it was with "deep regret" that he announced the tour would be postponed.
"It's a very disappointing outcome from our perspective," cricket.com.au quoted him as saying.
"After six days of extensive deliberations and research, we've come to the conclusion that we have no other alternative than to postpone our tour to Bangladesh," Sutherland said.
"Six days ago we were informed by ASIO and our Department of Foreign Affairs that there was a credible risk to Australians in Bangladesh and we've worked through a rigorous process to try and understand that.
"We've had three people on the ground meeting with Bangladesh Cricket, Bangladesh government sources and members of our foreign affairs department in Bangladesh.
"In the end, all things considered, we've made this decision to postpone the tour for now and we'll enter into discussions with the Bangladesh Cricket Board about when we can play this cricket series next."
Sutherland praised the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the Bangladesh government, saying their co-operation over the past six days "has been nothing short of outstanding".
He also expressed sympathy for Bangladesh cricket and its supporters, but said the safety of the Australian players and staff was the top priority.
"It's not really appropriate for me to go into specific detail on this. But all I can say is that the threats were credible and real and targeted, not only against Westerners but against Australians."
Sutherland said he'd negotiate with the Bangladesh Cricket Board regarding potential future dates for the series.