New Zealand's cricketers are comfortable with returning to Bangladesh for the World Twenty20 tournament if their security expert gives it the green light this week.
A high-powered security meeting is scheduled for Dhaka tomorrow where senior officials of Bangladesh's Cricket Board will plead its case to retain the tournament, scheduled for March 21-April 6. Recent political violence in the country, including incidents when New Zealand toured there in October, placed its hosting rights in doubt, and Sri Lanka has volunteered to step in as host.
Senior New Zealand paceman Kyle Mills said he never felt his personal safety was under threat on their tour last year despite outbreaks of violence around the general election.
The worst incident near the players was a Molotov cocktail being thrown at the front wall of the team's hotel in Chittagong towards police and security guarding the team. The West Indies Under-19 team abandoned their tour in December after an explosion near their hotel.
"As far as security went, I felt really comfortable. There was one wee incident but I never felt threatened or anything like that," Mills said.
Mills' brother Heath is the New Zealand Players' Association boss and last week expressed his concern at the situation in Bangladesh. "I'm very familiar with the situation on the ground there and it's got worse following the elections. We are naturally concerned and need to be convinced the players are going to be safe before we go ahead," he said.
Kyle Mills admitted to keeping an eye on recent developments in Bangladesh on news websites, but was happy to leave it to the experts to determine their safety.
The key figure in this case is former Australian detective Reg Dickason, who was New Zealand's security man when a bomb exploded outside their hotel in Karachi in 2002, which resulted in their tour of Pakistan being abandoned.
In recent years Dickason has been England's security consultant on tours and will attend tomorrow's meeting as an independent advisor for FICA, the international players' association. Dickason will essentially recommend whether it's safe to proceed.
"If they're happy with the security arrangements then that provides a lot of confidence for me as a player," Mills said.
"I've got a wife and two kids at home so I'm never going to put myself in a position where I feel threatened or uncomfortable."
Team-mate Nathan McCullum, who also has a young family, isn't losing sleep about the Bangladesh situation.
"We can't really worry too much about it. We're excited about playing the World T20, and whether it's in Bangladesh or anywhere else," McCullum said.
"The Players' Association and NZC have all their security checks and whatever the decision is, we'll be right behind it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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