Kabul attack: Dean Jones felt bomb shockwave in cricket commentary box
Australian cricket great Dean Jones isn't going anywhere as he hits out at "hypocritical" players and commentators who are calling for him to leave a Twenty20 competition in Afghanistan following a deadly terrorist attack outside the stadium in Kabul.
Jones was working at the Alokozay Kabul International Stadium covering a Shpageeza Cricket League match when a blast erupted outside the ground on Wednesday (NZT Thursday).
Several people were killed in the attack which terrorist group Islamic State has claimed responsibility for.
Twenty-four overseas players from countries including South Africa, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and the West Indies are taking part in the league, which Jones described as Afghanistan's version of the Big Bash League.
* Suicide bombing outside Kabul stadium
Zimbabwe has ordered its nine cricketers playing in the competition to return home. The nine included test players Elton Chigumbura, Hamilton Masakadza, Sikandar Raza and Richmond Mutumbami, who are now on their way home.
Jones - who said he had been contracted by the Afghanistan Cricket Board to cover the event - said the incident nearly shook him and his co-commentators "out of our seats".
"The bomb went off outside the checkpoint outside our main gates here. The Minister of Interior told us there were five soldiers killed and civilians [too]," Jones said on Thursday.
"The bomb blast went off, the players hit the ground, the shock wave came through the grandstand and the commentary booth, it nearly shook us out of our seats.
"We were told it was a gas cylinder [explosion], which I refuted at the time, but that's the information they were getting."
The match resumed, but it was later apparent there was a sinister motive behind the attack.
"Then they told us straight after the game that it was a suicide bomber, which changed the whole mood of the players," Jones said.
Meetings involving politicians, administrators and players ensued, but Jones gave no suggestion he would be leaving the country.
"Our security has been given presidential status, which means they clear the roads fully to get us to and from the ground.
"I was [conscious of the risks before I came.] I'm not expecting to play golf and go down to the beach, but we knew it was there. But at the same time, you can't be hypocritical because we had terrorist attacks in London, and everyone stayed.
"Because it's Afghanistan, and they mightn't like the country, they've got to go?
"We've got to be a bit resilient. We're trying to make good decisions based on the information that the President and the Minister of Interior said they would give us full security."
The attack comes in a week in which international cricket has returned to Pakistan after a long absence, with a World XI, featuring several Australian players, involved in a three-match Twenty20 series against the home side.
International teams have almost avoided touring Pakistan since a 2009 attack on a bus carrying the touring Sri Lankan team was fired at by gunmen in Lahore.
Cricket Australia orchestrated an elaborate security setup for the recent test tour of Bangladesh. Other than a relatively minor incident in which a team bus was hit by a projectile, thought to be a rock or stone, the team avoided security dramas.
- Sydney Morning Herald