Unitech Cup 2006 August 17, 2006

Mendis criticises South Africa's pull-out

Cricinfo staff

Mendis: 'The government put in place presidential-level security for the team, yet they [South Africa] were not convinced' © AFP

Duleep Mendis, Sri Lanka Cricket's chief executive, has criticised South Africa's decision to pull out of the Unitech Cup following a bomb blast in Colombo on Monday. South Africa's withdrawal came after an independent security assessment by a Dubai-based firm said that "the current risk to the team is at an unacceptable level".

"I am amazed at their decision to return home," Mendis told AFP. "The government put in place presidential-level security for the team, yet they were not convinced. They took advice from a Dubai firm which is even more surprising. I did not see anyone from this firm in Colombo, yet they prepared a security report within 24 hours sitting in Dubai."

The South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) issued a statement fully supporting the decision while saying that it was an extremely difficult one to make. "This has been a very tense last three days" said Tony Irish, the Chief Executive Officer of SACA. "Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and I have been in constant contact with the team in Colombo while the process necessary for making the decision has taken place. It has been a very difficult time for the players, especially having to deal with the uncertainty of the situation."

"At the end of the day, you have to rely on what the security experts say and base the decisions on that. The team's security consultants, Nicholls, Steyn and Associates, have been very thorough and the independent ICC security consultants concurred with their security assessment. One cannot underestimate the difficulty of this decision, but it does show that Cricket South Africa places the emphasis on where it should be, namely the safety of the players and the national team."