Cricket Ireland still assessing tournament invite
Cricket Ireland's chief executive, Warren Deutrom, has said that a decision is likely to be made within the next 24 hours about whether to send a team to Bangladesh for the Under-19 World Cup. Ireland Under-19s have been invited to replace Australia, after they officially pulled out of the tournament due to security concerns.
Deutrom said that guidance from both the Irish and UK governments would be central to the decision-making, with Cricket Ireland operating under dual jurisdiction. He described the security plans put forward by the ICC and BCB as "very comprehensive" and said the suggestions from government were that "the risk is outweighed by the mitigation of the risk" but further independent assessments would be sought.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently advises on its website of a "high threat from terrorism in Bangladesh" and warns British tourists "to remain vigilant and take appropriate safety precautions". Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade suggests visitors to Bangladesh "exercise caution".
"From a cricketing perspective, the answer is yes, obviously," Deutrom said when asked if Ireland would like to send a team. "However our duty of care goes well beyond that for obvious reasons and there is a lot to look into. My feeling at the moment is that the security plan provided by the ICC and the Bangladesh Cricket Board certainly looks very comprehensive; what I'm trying to get my head around is the assessment of that security plan from independent security companies, which is probably of greater interest. Given the short compression of time we have, the more independent eyes we can have on it the better.
"The view at the moment from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office is that the risk is outweighed by the mitigation of the risk. That's not a 'Yes, definitely go', it's more of, there is a risk - there's a heightened risk in every country around the world and it's a question of how well is that risk going to be mitigated. Certainly the impression is that the level of security being afforded to the Under-19s is the same level that would be applied to a senior World Cup, such as the World T20 in 2014. There were some security concerns I seem to recall even in advance of that and it went off without incident.
"Obviously there are no guarantees in any walk of life, it's simply a question of, on balance, what is the expert advice telling you? At the moment that would appear to be: proceed. However, I'm still waiting for a couple of other bits of information which due diligence suggests if important to wait for before making a recommendation to the board."
Ireland had been on standby over the possibility of being called into the tournament but there is only a short window in which to arrange their participation, with the World Cup due to begin on January 27. Ireland originally missed out on a place after finishing second to Nepal at the ICC Qualifier last October.
Confirming player availability at such short notice may be a major hurdle, Deutrom said he had already fielded enquiries "from players, parents and staff members" wanting to know what was going on. Cricket Ireland has been working in conjunction with the ECB and Cricket Scotland, both of whom are currently expected to send teams to Bangladesh.
"We only got the official notification yesterday afternoon, so I'm busily trying to read myself into the brief, trying to make the logistical plans that we can work behind the scenes to get us into position, whereby if we do press the button we'll be ready to go," Deutrom said. "We're dealing with a number of enquiries, from players, parents and staff members, all saying what's happening.
"There's an awful lot to digest in a short period of time from a security perspective, we've got to deal with our government. Because we're a dual jurisdiction body we also have to engage with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, although we can actually do that via the ECB and Cricket Scotland, who have been extremely helpful and provided us with the intelligence they have. We've been doing our own independent security assessments and we've got to speak to our insurers and that's before we even look at things such as selection - are the players even available, provision of kit, visas."
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick