Australian players jittery over IPL
Australia's players are considering their involvement in the IPL this year following the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore. The captain Ricky Ponting had already decided not to play this season because of his Australian commitments but he said his team-mates would be thinking about whether they wanted to travel to the region so soon after the Lahore shootout and the Mumbai terrorist attack.
"I think there would have been enough concerns from the guys anyway after Mumbai," Ponting said. "That was still pretty fresh in everyone's minds I think and this one on top again. I'm not going to the IPL, a decision that was made a few weeks ago. Some of the other guys that potentially could be going there will have all those things now that they've got to think about as well, more so than they did before."
Australia were on Wednesday practising in Durban ahead of the second Test against South Africa and Ponting said his men would be kept abreast of the security situation in Asia by the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA). Ponting said he was not aware of any players who had already decided not to take part in the IPL because of the Lahore attack.
"I'm sure once we get around the guys a bit more today that might even be something that comes up in our meeting this morning as well, see what the guys are thinking about there," Ponting said. "[ACA chief executive] Paul Marsh will keep the guys up to date with what's happening as far as security is concerned in the IPL."
A more pressing concern for Australia is the one-day series they were scheduled to play against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates immediately following the tour of South Africa. Cricket Australia is keen to go ahead with the series, while England has loomed as a possible venue for a Test series between Australia and Pakistan next year.
"I'm not against playing in neutral venues," Ponting said. "We've done it in the past, we played [Tests against Pakistan] in Sri Lanka and Sharjah a few years ago now. There's every possibility that neutral venues could come up."
The Lahore attack dominated discussions among Australia's players on Tuesday, when they had intended to refocus on the second Test following their 162-run win in Johannesburg. The Australian team physio Alex Kountouris, who previously worked with the Sri Lanka side, had been in touch with the Sri Lanka players while the coach Tim Nielsen had spoken to his fellow South Australian, the umpire Steve Davis, who was travelling in a van behind the team bus when the attack took place.
"From having a good win and having a bit of a celebration and waking up yesterday morning and seeing what was happening in our game on the other side of the world was very saddening for all of us," Ponting said. "Alex has made contact with them yesterday and I told him last night to send a message on behalf of the players to the guys over there that have been affected by it all.
"Obviously what happened was well planned and they were made targets. It was the main discussion point around the whole group yesterday from the morning when we woke up until we went to bed last night. That's what everyone was talking about, what they were seeing on the news coverage and what Alex was hearing coming back from their players."
Security has been increased for the South Africa and Australia teams in the wake of the Lahore attack. The second Test begins at Kingsmead on Friday.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo