London: England are to go ahead with their tour of Bangladesh, the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Thursday.
The future of the tour was thrown into doubt when an attack in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, saw 20 hostages killed, including nine Italian citizens, with the Islamic State group claiming responsibility.
An ECB delegation led by security adviser Reg Dickason, accompanied by director of cricket operations John Carr and David Leatherdale of the Professional Cricketers’ Association recently visited Bangladesh to make their own security assessment.
Following their return, the ECB said on Thursday that the three one-day internationals and two Tests which England are due to play in Bangladesh in October and November before heading to India were set to go ahead as scheduled.
England players — including Test captain Alastair Cook and One-Day captain Eoin Morgan — received a briefing Thursday from longstanding security chief Dickason, accompanied by ECB director of cricket Andrew Strauss, Leatherdale and Carr, as well as Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive.
Following the meeting Strauss, a former England captain, said: “England’s tour of Bangladesh will continue as planned.
“Safety and security of players and management are always paramount. We’ve received a thorough risk assessment, had excellent insight into the current situation and been fully briefed on security commitments.
“The ECB and PCA have the utmost confidence in the advice and support we’ve been given.”
Strauss added that details had been discussed with the players and management in an open meeting Thursday.
“They asked lots of questions, have time to ask more and will clearly want to take it all in — we understand that.
“Selection for the tour will be made after the end of the (English) summer internationals (in September),” he said.
England are due to arrive in Bangladesh on 30 September, with their schedule also including three warm-up matches. One before the ODIs and two ahead of the Tests.
They are set to leave Bangladesh on 2 November ahead of a five-Test series in India starting the following week.
“We will, as always, continue to monitor the situation right up to and throughout the tour,” Strauss said.
Australia cancelled their tour of Bangladesh in October for security reasons and then withdrew their side from the Under-19 World Cup in the country at the start of this year.
England, however, fielded a team at the youth tournament.
Current advice from Britain’s Foreign Office states “there is a heightened threat of further terrorist attacks” in Bangladesh, although similar assessments could be made of a number of countries.
Dealing with security threats has long been an issue for cricket, as it has been for other major sports and entertainment events.
England’s 1972/73 tour of India saw a team captained by Tony Lewis receive death threats from the Black September group responsible for the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
However, England’s tour passed off without major incident.
More recently, the England team at the 2003 World Cup in southern Africa refused to play in Zimbabwe citing concerns over player safety — a decision that contributed to a failure to get out of the group stage.
Five years later an England team captained by Kevin Pietersen and featuring opening batsman Strauss returned to India for a Test series whose future had been called into question by the Mumbai terror attacks.
Last week James Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, expressed the team’s confidence in Dickason’s judgement as he went about his fact-finding mission in Bangladesh.
“Reg is brilliant at his job and he’s looked after us for the best part of 10 years and David is there with the PCA,” said Anderson, also a member of England’s 2003 World Cup squad.
“We trust their ability to see what the safety is like.