Australia have reportedly made a decision to pull out of the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh after security issues. This follows the senior team pulling out of the October Test series last year, and a warning from authorities to Australian government staff to return home from the South Asian country.
A News Ltd report said that Cricket Australia (CA) came to the decision after being warned of a 'direct danger to Australian interests'. Sean Carroll, who is CA's head of security, has been in Bangladesh meeting with relevant authorities.
Australia's football team has played a match in Bangladesh since these security threats but it seems that CA is adamant not to risk its players. However, the side will be sent to the UAE to play warm-up matches.
The ICC explained that its own security manager and an independent security agency had been working very closely with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and the Bangladesh security agencies, and that the planned security arrangements satisfactorily mitigate the risks identified such that it remains appropriate for the event to continue as planned.
The ICC further announced that it has invited Ireland, as the runner-up in the qualifying event in Kuala Lumpur in October, to replace Australia in the 19-day tournament.
The pullout could still be a huge blow to Bangladesh's sporting interests. No other team has mentioned anything about not travelling to the U19 World Cup — and it is unclear whether more pullouts will follow.
The Aussies were scheduled to play India on 28 January in Mirpur. Nepal and New Zealand are the other two teams in the group.
It must be noted that South Africa, India and Pakistan all toured Bangladesh in 2015. The warning to the Australian team came from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and is similar to those from governments of the United States, Canada and the UK to its citizens based in Bangladesh.