What is the trigger that stops an international sporting tour from happening on safety grounds?
Australia’s planned two Test series in Bangladesh now appears unlikely to go ahead following the Government contacting Cricket Australia directly to inform them of potential threats.
Reports that an Italian aid worker was shot dead in Dhaka and that ISIS have claimed responsibility seems to be the catalyst.
A citizen of a Western country being murdered by extremists in a Muslim country.
That’s guaranteed to evoke an emotional response every time.
Although a tragic event, perhaps our reaction is based in something other than logic.
For what would be the narrative if a Bangladeshi citizen was murdered instead?
People are murdered in every city in every country for all kinds of reasons.
Johannesburg is the murder capital of the world yet we all travel there.
The Mumbai bombings haven’t stopped any country from touring India other than Pakistan. However, it is political reasons, rather than real safety threats that are blocking the Green Shirts.
It wasn’t too far back that extremists slaughtered a British policeman with machetes in a London street, yet The Ashes still went ahead.
Since the shocking attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Pakistan, every country invests more resources into safety than ever before. This is a good thing.
However, in a perfect world, there would be no threat of attacks on sporting teams. But the current nature of human relations is that this is unavoidable, just as it has been since the dawn of time.
Cricket is loved and played in places that don’t offer blanket promises of security. The reality is that no where on earth really does.
What is an acceptable level of security?
Should hotels be emptied and only occupied by the touring party? Should roads be closed? Should stadiums be emptied and matched only played in front of crowds vetted by metal detectors?
Perhaps all tours should just be played in the UAE? Nothing bad ever happens there.
What options do Australia and Bangladesh now have should the visitors choose not to travel?
Perhaps the Australians could offer to host the Tigers? Surely Cairns or Darwin would be available at short notice? I’m sure the WACA would love another shot at International Test cricket.
This would not be too difficult to arrange.
Is there even a driver to play the series? Australia were after some warm up Tests before facing the resurgent New Zealand. Bangladesh were looking forward to taking it up to a cricketing powerhouse. The revenues generated would also have been useful.
But the easy option is to just do nothing. No tour.
The result of this choice would be dramatic. We don’t play international cricket in Pakistan. We would now not play international cricket in Bangladesh, despite both India and South Africa touring there this year.
There are 10 Test playing nations. 20% of them would not be able to host a home event.
God forbid that Afghanistan ever got Test status.
The ugly reality is that if a madman wanted to, they could get to a cricketer in any country.
For example, no one was frisked or walked through a metal detector at the recent World Cup Final held at the MCG. Bags were searched, but for alcohol, not for weapons.
It is simple to build a scary story as to why we shouldn’t play cricket in a particular country due to safety grounds.
Are we becoming too easily spooked?