Australian players sent back to state squads
Australia's Test cricketers have been sent back to their state squads, with the Test tour of Bangladesh now almost certain to be cancelled due to safety concerns. Cricket Australia's security staff arrived home from Dhaka on Tuesday night and were to report to the Cricket Australia board and the Australian Cricketers' Association on Wednesday.
Although no official announcement is expected from Cricket Australia until at least Thursday, there appears little prospect of the two-Test tour proceeding. The 15 members of the Test squad have been told to resume training with their state squads, which are preparing for next month's Matador Cup one-day tournament.
Australia's coach Darren Lehmann said he expected a decision to be made within 24 hours, but was not too hopeful. "It's getting pretty tight now, to be honest," Lehmann told 5AA radio. "We're still on hold. The security guys got back from Bangladesh today so they're obviously speaking to board as we speak. Hopefully we come to some sort of answer in the next 24 hours or so.
"It will be an exciting time if we get there and play, if we don't we'll go to plan B. I can't say what plan B is. But they're back in their state squads at the moment. We've put them back into training with their state sides and we'll make a decision from there."
The players were originally scheduled to fly out on Monday but that was postponed after the Australian government on Friday advised Cricket Australia of concerns over the safety of Australians in Bangladesh. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on Friday warned of "reliable information to suggest that militants may be planning to target Australian interests in Bangladesh".
Australia's head of security Sean Carroll, team manager Gavin Dovey, and team security manager Frank Dimasi flew to Bangladesh at the weekend to meet with Bangladeshi officials and Australia's High Commissioner. Although they were assured of what BCB president Nazmul Hassan described as "blanket security", the Australian government's security advice appears compelling.
The prospects of the tour proceeding further decreased on Monday when an Italian national was shot and killed while walking in Dhaka's diplomatic zone. DFAT's travel advice was updated on Tuesday to state that: "The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has claimed responsibility, although this is yet to be confirmed. The Australian Government has advised staff to travel only by vehicle in Dhaka for the time being."
The UK government also issued an advisory to UK officials in Bangladesh to "limit attendance at events where westerners may gather", while the US Department of State said it had "reliable new information to suggest that militants may be planning to target Australian interests in Bangladesh".
Australia have not toured Bangladesh for a Test series since 2006, although they have visited for one-day matches since then and last played in the country in 2014 at the World T20.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale