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Oz, NZ Cricketers Warned About Security Threat During IPL

PTI 30 Jan 2010, 20:41:44 PM IST

Players associations from Australia and New Zealand have received a security report warning of potential terrorist attacks during the Indian Premier League, reports The Australian.

Concerns about the lucrative Twenty20 tournament continue to grow, with IPL officials constantly refusing to advise players of security arrangements.

The Australian Cricketers Association has engaged an independent security consultant to assess the situation and has also arranged meetings with the Australian government to seek advice on travelling to India.

"The report doesn't say `don't go to India' but it certainly raises issues which are of concern," ACA chief executive Paul Marsh said.

"It identified specific terrorist groups which had the potential to target the event. We know these threats exist. It's always going to be risky travelling to this part of the world but the security around it is what we need to understand."

About 20 Australians and six New Zealanders are among dozens of foreign players due in India by March 2 to prepare for the third annual IPL tournament, which starts on March 12.

Tension has continued to rise since Shiv Sena claimed earlier this month that it would not let Australians play in the city because of attacks on Indians in this country.

There was further angst when all 11 Pakistani players in last week's IPL auction were ignored by the IPL franchises, prompting outrage in Pakistan.

New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills claimed the IPL's refusal to co-operate with its players over security raised questions about what has been put in place.

"The IPL have to engage with us and show us what security plans they have to give us some confidence," Mills said. "The players would then be a lot more comfortable about attending the event.

"At the moment, by excluding us, the IPL is prompting the question `why are they excluding us'. Why are they keeping information from us? It's standing practice with the boards at every ICC event that we work through a security process and make a decision. By excluding us, it raises alarm bells. It's certainly not best practice. The longer it goes on without the players having a decent understanding of security, the greater the chance of some players not attending the event.

“The frustrating thing is if the IPL worked with us and we were able to look at the plans and understand the risk assessments, then a lot of our concerns may be alleviated. The fact is that the players and player associations are just getting stonewalled by the IPL. A number of our guys are genuinely concerned about travelling to India at the moment. Obviously, with the hockey World Cup and Commonwealth Games coming up, security is an issue which is very much alive and people are talking about it."

IPL franchises claimed they ignored Pakistani players because of fears about them being able to gain visas given the difficult relationship with India following the Mumbai terrorist attacks a little more than a year ago.

The decision has been widely criticised, with India's Home Minister P Chidambaram claiming he would like to see Pakistani players in the IPL.

"Even if three, four or five Pakistani cricketers eventually play in some matches of IPL, I, and several million cricket lovers would be happy," he said.

Chidambaram criticised the IPL for ignoring Pakistani players, terming their exclusion "a disservice to cricket" and maintaining that the government had no role in it. Lamenting the exclusion, he described some of the players as "among the best Twenty20", and said: "These players were coming as individuals, it was not a Pakistan team.

"I think it is a disservice to cricket that some of these players were not picked. I don't know why the IPL teams acted in the manner they acted. But certainly to suggest that there was a hint or nudge from the government is completely untrue," he said.