Fallout of the Lahore attack March 4, 2009

Lahore casts IPL shadow in New Zealand

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Fletcher warns against playing in India
  • Duncan Fletcher has cautioned England's players against playing the IPL, saying some types of terrorist attacks can be carried out more easily in India than Pakistan.
  • "The traffic is often so bad in the big [Indian] cities where a lot of the cricket is played that the coach can move along only slowly at times, which turns it into a sitting duck for terrorists," he wrote in his Guardian column. "There's nothing stopping a tuk-tuk pulling up alongside and detonating a bomb.
  • "If I were one of the England guys who signed up for the IPL, I would be concerned." Several leading England players, including Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, have signed lucrative contracts to play in this season's IPL, which is scheduled to start next month.
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Tuesday's terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore has led to a heightened anxiety among the New Zealand players over touring India for next month's IPL, with eight players expected to feature in the tournament which runs from April 10-May 24. Their concerns over playing in India existed, it turns out, even before last night's incident.

New Zealand allrounder Jacob Oram said the events in Pakistan have only worsened the state. "Definitely after what happened in Mumbai late last year, and what happened last night, it keeps raising questions," said Oram, who is part of the Chennai Super Kings squad in the IPL along with Stephen Fleming.

"Before that I wouldn't have had any worries. Now, though, questions have got to be asked. Heath Mills [the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association chief] and the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations [FICA] are looking into security measures. Last year the IPL was amazing, with all the fanfare, but now reality has hit hard."

Heath Mills told Cricinfo that the New Zealand players were more concerned about the security measures and that he had received calls from a couple of them even before the Lahore attack, enquiring about the security arrangements in the IPL.

"Our players don't have any direct dealings with the BCCI or the IPL," Mills said. "The most important thing right now would be for the BCCI and IPL to deal with players directly, and also with FICA. That will give them a reassurance about the security situation."

FICA and the NZCPA are likely to play an important role in any decision regarding the IPL. Although the NZCPA and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) can only make recommendations, it is unlikely the players will take individual calls.

"We back our player association and NZC to make the decision," Oram said. "NZC have been great so far whenever we have toured dicey countries. They have left it up to players. That decision is made with friends and family and wives in mind. Until a tour like that comes around, I wouldn't be sticking my neck out. But I will be thinking twice."

He said it was a relief, though, that NZC was looking into the Pakistan tour - scheduled for later this year. "That takes a decision out of a player's hand," he said. "That's always tough when an individual has to take his decision. So you can see which individual has said yes or no, and it can isolate guys and set them aside from others. For NZC to say no straightaway, with the backing of NZCPA, puts us out of focus.

"The IPL has definitely opened financial doors that you can only dream of. But I am married now. It would take a lot for me to turn a blind eye to what's going on. I know the player associations around the world are looking into the security arrangement. I read that Lalit Modi had got the security beefed up. If that's the case, and if I am assured about the security, I won't say no just yet. If it gets worse, you have got to take a look at it."

Aaron Klee, Jesse Ryder's manager, said though touring India was not quite the same as touring Pakistan, there were a few concerns about the batsman turning out for the Bangalore Royal Challengers.

"I haven't spoken to Jesse as yet, but for me personally, I am pretty relaxed at this moment," Klee said. "But I wouldn't be just jumping on the plane to India since I will be sitting with the players' association people and the New Zealand Cricket officials to understand the scene better."

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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