Ponting favours shift of Champions League venue
Ricky Ponting has said he would support shifting the Champions League Twenty20 to another country if the event does not take place in India following the terrorist strikes in Mumbai on Wednesday night. His comments were echoed by Shane Warne, captain and coach of the Rajasthan Royals, who was en route to Mumbai but said he didn't think he would be going there.
Several Australian Test players plus the Victoria and Western Australia squads were due to fly to India during the next week but Cricket Australia has temporarily suspended the plans.
"They've said that any cricket travel has been cancelled at the moment," Ponting said in Adelaide. "I think that's definitely the right decision right now."
It should become clearer over the next day whether the Australian players are likely to be cleared to go to the tournament, which was due to begin on Wednesday with a match between Victoria and Middlesex in Mumbai. Victoria were scheduled to stay in the Taj Palace hotel, where terrorists entered the building and took hostages on Wednesday, but the games are expected to be shifted initially to Bangalore.
At least 80 people were killed in the attacks across the city and Matthew Hayden, who is due to play for the Chennai Super Kings, said it was unclear if the tournament would proceed. He said it would be a "huge loss" for international cricket if the event was cancelled.
"It takes a number of hours, up to 12 hours, to get any kind of position on it, so we'll just have to be monitoring as the Test match goes on," Hayden said. "There's been murmurs of [playing in] Bangalore and different opportunities but we'll just have to go with it and as always work with Cricket Australia and ACA [Australian Cricketers' Association] and the various positions with DFAT [Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] to understand what we're dealing with."
Ponting said the blasts in Mumbai were "close to home" for his players, who earlier this month were in India. He said they were keen to see the Champions League go ahead if possible.
"That's been the whole talk around the breakfast room this morning and certainly even at the start of training was about this incident," Ponting said. "It goes to show the level of concern that we're showing towards it.
"Everyone who's playing in the event or wants to see the event do well would like to see it go ahead. So if that means moving it to a different country then I guess I'd support that."
The terrorist attacks have been a more immediate concern for most of the members of the Champions League's organising committee, who were either staying, or due to stay, at the Taj Palace. Many of them were working late at the BCCI's nearby offices but Dean Kino, a member of the governing council, was at the hotel when the terrorists entered the building.
Kino, who is Cricket Australia's lawyer, devised the rules for the Twenty20 tournament. "We've been speaking to Dean since 6am (8pm GMT) and been in constant contact with him," a Cricket Australia spokesman told Cricinfo. "We've been in contact with his family and we can confirm he is safe and no longer at the hotel."
Shane Warne has stopped in Singapore after being told to delay his travel to Mumbai. Warne and Darren Berry, also part of the Rajasthan Royals franchise, are waiting for further instructions.
"I'm shocked," Warne told the Herald Sun. "Darren and I got off the plane and saw the news on TV. It's unbelievable. The place is chaos. We are heading to Mumbai and that's the hotel we are staying at. I don't think we will be going [to India] now. Why would you?"
Warne said he had taken his luggage from the connecting flight and would stay put at the Singapore airport and wait for further information. "At this stage I am going to stay where I am for the rest of the day, but I reckon we are certainties to be on a flight heading home later today," Warne said. "It is just not worth the risk. No amount of money is worth the risk with what is going on over there at the moment." The Australian government's travel advice has warned people to stay away from Mumbai, but has not increased the alert level for India.