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September 18, 2008
Ricky Ponting says Australia's players will be kept abreast of the security situation in India "daily, if not hourly" as they prepare to depart for their Test tour on Sunday. The trip is expected to go ahead as planned despite last Saturday's series of bomb blasts that killed more than 20 people in New Delhi, although Ponting said Cricket Australia would stay on top of any new developments.
"Anything could happen tomorrow, things change very quickly in the world right at the moment," Ponting told AAP. "Cricket Australia will continue to be in touch and the government will continue to be in touch and Cricket Australia will keep us players and the players' association in the loop on a daily, if not hourly basis."
Ponting was speaking at Parliament House in Canberra, where he was promoting Cricket Australia's new in2Cricket game for children and also met with the foreign affairs minister Stephen Smith. Ponting defended the decision to visit India but not Pakistan, where security concerns led to Australia cancelling a Test tour scheduled for earlier this year.
"As we all know and has been outlined already, these are very different circumstances between India and Pakistan right at the moment and Cricket Australia has made that very clear," Ponting said. "As captain of the side and as a player, right at the moment I am very comfortable to go on the advice of Cricket Australia and the players' association."
Michael Brown, the general manager of cricket for Cricket Australia, rejected the suggestion that Australia would only go ahead with the tour for monetary reasons or to placate the powerful BCCI. "The only reasons we can't play and participate," Brown said, "is for security reasons and we'll keep monitoring those as time goes by."
Cricket Australia has said that the government's foreign relations with Pakistan and India play a part in the decision-making process. Australia's consulates in Karachi and Lahore have been closed due to security concerns, while they remain open in India.
However, the former Test player Dean Jones has slammed Cricket Australia for what he believes is a double-standard. Jones is now the executive director of the Indian Cricket League and he said while the situations in the two countries were different, Australian officials were clearly in a bind.
"The reason why this is such a headache for Australia is that it can't afford to take a stand on player safety in India," Jones wrote in the Canberra Times. "I speak from quite a bit of experience in regards to India. My next trip will be my 91st.
"And there is reason to be concerned about security there, particularly in Dehli, where the latest bomb went off. Through my role as an executive director of the Indian Cricket League, I know we have major headaches with security there."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the CLT20 game between Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings