Cricket Australia says players can decide on IPL
Cricket Australia will let players involved in the IPL make their own decisions about whether to take part in the tournament following threats on their safety from India. The Shiv Sena political party has said they would not allow Australians to play in Maharashtra following attacks on Indian students in Melbourne.
"At the end of the day those players make their own decision about whether or not they go," Peter Young, the Cricket Australia spokesman, told AAP. "But we want them to be able to make informed decisions and we'd like to work with the ACA [Australian Cricketers' Association] to ensure they can make informed decisions.'' The IPL is due to begin in March and Australian players feature heavily in the franchise line-ups.
The Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith said the final decision on whether players go to the country would rest with Cricket Australia. "They [Shiv Sena] are known to make colourful remarks, and they have engaged in conduct which both India and Australia have been disapproving of in the past, so far as disrupting cricket games are concerned," he said in the Courier Mail. "But we take any threat to Australian sportsmen and sportswomen ... playing sport overseas very seriously."
Player security has been an issue for Australia whenever they are scheduled to travel to the subcontinent. Australia has not toured Pakistan since 1998 due to the safety situation and sends independent security personnel to review arrangements before each trip.
"Our policy, as demonstrated over the years, is to only travel if dispassionate, expert, independent advice suggests that it is safe," Young said. "On those occasions when advice has suggested otherwise, we have not travelled, including when the ICC said Pakistan was safe and our advice was that it was not."
In 2008 there were a series of bombs that went off in India before the Test visit, which went ahead without any problems. However, teams are much more sensitive following the attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore, and this week three of the Togo football team were killed by gunmen who targeted their vehicle in Angola.
Tim May, the international players' association chief executive, claimed in the Australian the security situation in India was now as worrying as a year ago, when Mumbai terrorist attacks and a national election forced the tournament to be moved to South Africa at the last minute.
"We don't have to go too far back to the attack on the bus carrying the Togo soccer team in Africa," May said. "It underlines the fact that sporting teams are very palatable targets for terrorist organisations who want to make a lot of noise and lift their international profile."
May said a franchise had written to a player saying "if you're scared, don't come" to the IPL. "That doesn't do the player any good and it doesn't do the IPL any good," May said. "You'd like to think the IPL would realise that it is a reasonable request by players wanting to know about security arrangements." Australia are also due in India for another seven-match one-day series at the end of the year.