SLC effectively rules out Sylhet as venue for Bangladesh series
Sri Lanka Cricket have effectively ruled out Sylhet as a venue for their series in Bangladesh, with board vice-president Mohan de Silva saying Sylhet was not on his security committee's schedule. De Silva said the travel involved for the teams if Sylhet was a venue would be a security issue.
The tour - scheduled to start later this month - has been the subject of much speculation because of the prevailing political instability in Bangladesh and the incidents of violence in recent weeks. Sri Lanka are known to be in favour of a compact schedule and dropping Sylhet from the itinerary could be the best way to ensure the tour goes ahead.
SLC's security committee, which includes de Silva, is currently inspecting the venues and security arrangements in Bangladesh, and the tour will be confirmed only once the committee has okayed it.
SLC had previously said their final decision on the tour would be announced on January 15, but have now said they will only firm up their stance during the weekend at the earliest. "We are waiting on the report of the security people who have gone there," SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said. "They get back on the 18th, so when they get back we can give a confirmed decision. So far we don't see a problem, but the report will tell us if there are any areas we need to look at and get sorted out."
If Sylhet is dropped as a venue, the Mirpur stadium would host the three-match ODI series, as well as the first Test from January 27. Chittagong would host the second Test and the two Twenty20s. "We were considering the time duration from hotel to venue," de Silva said. "At this time, we just think that instead of playing just one or two games in one venue, if we can confine ourselves to venues where within the shortest period of time the team can get from the hotel to the venue, that is advisable for us."
De Silva said that the tour had been discussed at the highest levels of government in the two countries. Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa is "very keen" that Sri Lanka go ahead with the tour, he said, while Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina has already told the Sri Lankan high commissioner in Dhaka that all adequate security measures would be taken.
"We as a country, including his excellency the president [Mahinda Rajapaksa] is very keen that Sri Lanka tours Bangladesh. But at the same time, we have had some traumatic experiences in other countries. Therefore the security of the players is of paramount importance to us.
"Because of the political unrest that has been there in Bangladesh in recent times, our cricket board has sent a security team to assess and ascertain the correct ground situation. We have also been in constant touch with the Sri Lankan high commissioner in Dhaka. He has also been assured by your prime minister [Sheikh Hasina] that the fullest security will be provided for us."
He said he was happy with the security plan drawn up by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, having met the commissioner on Wednesday. "We were in Chittagong on Monday where we met the police commissioner there. Today we had a very successful discussion with Dhaka's police commissioner. We were quite satisfied, impressed with the security plan he has provided. We also had a few concerns which we brought to their notice.
"Therefore, we are quite happy. But we have to go back and report to our executive committee and they will take the final decision."
Meanwhile, Dhaka's police commissioner Benazir Ahmed has said that the security situation in the capital and the rest of the country has improved, which should assuage the visitors. "The security situation in Dhaka and across the country has certainly been good," Ahmed said. "We believe that we can give full-proof security to our guests."