Bangladesh news January 8, 2014

BCB acts to calm Sri Lanka safety doubts

Mohammad Isam and Andrew Fidel Fernando

The Bangladesh Cricket Board could make several concessions, including changing venues, to ensure Sri Lanka's tour of the country goes ahead as scheduled later this month despite security concerns. Senior officials of the two boards are due to meet on the sidelines of the ICC executive board meeting in Dubai on January 9, and one of the proposals that could be made by Bangladesh is to stage all the matches in Dhaka.

Sources within the BCB suggest the board has spoken to security agencies in the country and the idea of a single-venue series - though the least favoured option - has been discussed at top levels. While it is possible to stage all the matches in Dhaka, the BCB is aware of the message that will send out and its acting CEO, Nizamuddin Chowdhury, has officially denied such a proposal exists.

The security situation in Bangladesh, the fallout of prolonged political instability, has been the subject of intense discussion in the cricket world with two multi-nation tournaments - the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20 - and the bilateral series with Sri Lanka scheduled to be staged in the country over the next three-odd months. While the Asia Cup has been cleared to be staged there in February-March, the World Twenty20 and the Sri Lanka series may yet see changes.

Though Sri Lanka Cricket has denied making any sort of requests based on safety issues, it will send a security team to Dhaka on January 13. There is also talk of dropping Sylhet as a venue as it would entail more traveling for the two sides for a single ODI in the northeastern town. But the BCB are eager to keep all three venues if possible, to give a brighter picture of the security situation across the country.

They now has more time to convince the tourists. SLC had previously said it would make a decision on the tour during the ICC meeting in Dubai but has since said it will send a two-man committee to Bangladesh to assess the situation on the ground. Former SLC CEO Ajit Jayasekara - an Air Commodore with the Sri Lanka Air Force - and vice-president Mohan de Silva will leave for Bangladesh on Monday, incumbent CEO Ashley de Silva said.

"We haven't sent any requests to [the BCB], but we are sending our former CEO and vice-president to Bangladesh on Monday to assess the current situation," de Silva said. "Once that has been assessed we will make a decision about whether we need to change the itinerary.

"We have to make the final decision before January 15 because the team is supposed to go on January 24. I'm not sure if it will be discussed at the ICC meeting on the January 9, but basically that's where we stand right now."

SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga had earlier said Sri Lanka would seek to honour its commitment to the tour if possible, because Bangladesh had been among the teams eager to tour Sri Lanka during its own conflict. The board is unlikely to take security threats lightly however, given the Sri Lanka team were victims of a terrorist attack in Lahore, in 2009.

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