England's tour to Bangladesh in balance now
Dhaka, July 3 (IANS) The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) says it will follow government instructions about the team's Bangladesh tour in the wake of an unprecedented hostage crisis in Dhaka on Friday night.
In the latest flare-up of Islamist militant violence, gunmen laid Holey Artisan Bakery, popular with expatriates and the well-to-do, under siege with people -- including foreigners -- trapped inside the café.
After about 12 anxious hours, a commando operation brought a bloody end to the hostage standoff on Saturday morning, leaving at least 22 persons killed in its wake.
The board said it would work closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and assess the situation with inputs from its own security experts to reach a final decision about the tour, which was scheduled to begin on September 30, reported bdnews24.com on Sunday.
An ECB spokesman said, "The safety and security of our players and management is always of paramount importance to ECB and this applies to all teams representing England on overseas tours."
"We will continue to monitor and assess the situation in Bangladesh over the coming weeks and months and will undertake a thoroughgoing and robust pre-tour inspection of planned security arrangements for the England team."
Last year, Australia pulled out of a tour to Bangladesh following government warnings regarding potential threats from militants. Australia's Under-19 team, too, withdrew from the youth World Cup in Bangladesh a few months later.
The itinerary for the five-week England tour of Bangladesh was announced only last week. England have been scheduled to play two Tests and three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against the Tigers in Dhaka and Chittagong.
After the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, England flew back home from India but later returned to play two Tests in Chennai and Mohali.