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In cancelling Bangladesh tour, Cricket Australia had only one choice to make

5th January, 2016
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Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has stood firm in an ongoing pay dispute with Australia's cricketers. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
Expert
5th January, 2016
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In late November 2008, I received a phone call which put a dampener on the pleasant evening I had enjoyed.

When he was abroad, my brother only called me when he was after something, usually along the lines of “Can you pick me up from the airport tomorrow morning?”

But as this was in the middle of a tour, it was a bit of a surprise, and Graeme’s opening question – I was about to jokingly ask him what time in the morning he wanted picking up – was more of a shocked statement.

“Have you seen the news?” This, as a rule, is not a query to immediately lift the spirits.

When it is followed by “there are terrorists in the hotel I’m supposed to be going back to”, it tends to shake you up just a bit.

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That attacks on the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai took place not long after intelligence agencies warned of such an occurrence. They immediately forced the England team home and they only returned to the sub-continent – albeit with an amended schedule which saw Chennai replace Mumbai on the list of Test venues – after receiving favourable security advice.

Would they have returned had the British foreign office stated that by doing so they were putting themselves in harm’s way? I can’t provide an answer to such a question but it certainly makes you think.

Would I have wanted a member of my family to go to a venue, in a high-profile working environment, knowing that he had been advised it was against better judgement? No, I wouldn’t.

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My mind slipped back to the aforementioned incident when seeing the news of Cricket Australia’s decision to pull their Under-19 side of the upcoming World Cup in Bangladesh.

Given the fact the senior side reneged on an agreement to tour the same country only a couple of months ago, this hardly registered on the Richter scale of surprises, but it still isn’t what you expect to see.

Having read the report on the Cricinfo website, I – rather foolishly as became immediately apparent – decided to take a look at some of the readers’ comments below the article.

I won’t condemn the concept of reader interaction as, after all, hopefully this piece will gain traction on this particular site, but there are certain topics where rather forthright opinions are the currency of choice.

And this wasn’t an opinion piece stating that so and so is overrated, or this bloke is a better player than that one. It is merely a news piece, stating fact and quoting sources. And that fact is the Australian government feel it is unsafe for their nation’s citizens to travel to Bangladesh.

That sounds fairly clear-cut, but to browse some of the opinion is to be led to believe that a great injustice had been committed, not a decision reached after a great deal of thought.

The number of people who are happy to mock such a choice on the grounds of weakness or a lack of moral fibre beggars belief.

‘Please, Australian cricket team, ignore the advice of those paid to supply it. You’ll be fine’. An easy opinion to formulate when you’re not the one expected to do the travelling.

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I can recall Shane Warne, after Australia refused to play in Colombo during the 1996 World Cup following a bomb blast in the city, being mocked for making a throwaway line about the risks of shopping in such an environment.

What a fool Warne was, expressing concerns about potentially being in the path of an explosive device. How dare he think of his own safety.

Governing bodies receive plenty of flak, some of it justified, some of it not so, and simply because those who make the decisions are inevitably in the firing line.

In this instance, they only had one choice they could make. Your government, who are far better qualified than you are, expresses a legitimate concern and you pull the plug.

Yes, the players will be mightily disappointed, but the consequences of ignorance don’t bear thinking about. There is a bigger picture that needs looking at.

I remember that phone call.