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BCB desperate for series revival

West Indies withdraw U-19 team citing security concerns

Staff Correspondent

A bellboy of Hotel Agrabad is seen loading the bags of the visiting West Indies Under-19 team in Chittagong on Monday. – New Age photo     A bellboy of Hotel Agrabad is seen loading the bags of the visiting West Indies Under-19 team in Chittagong on Monday. – New Age photo

The Bangladesh Cricket Board made a last-ditch attempt on Monday to salvage the Under-19 series against the touring West Indies side after the West Indies Cricket Board decided to pull out their team citing security fears.
The WICB’s decision, announced early on Monday, came as a body blow for the BCB, who had earlier thought they did enough to convince the visitors to continue the series after concerns were raised following a blast outside their team hotel.
The BCB had assured West Indies of an enhanced security measures and revised the itinerary of the seven-match series after the blast on the roof a pastry shop outside Hotel Agrabad in Chittagong on Saturday.
The WICB agreed in a statement that the players were not ‘targeted’ and ‘not in any immediate danger,’ helping the BCB heave a sigh of relief.  Sunday’s match was deferred by only a day means the BCB had reasons to feel the matter had ended there.
However, the BCB officials woke up on Monday with a new statement from the WICB, which confirmed the pull-out. 
 ‘The WICB’s decision [to withdraw the team] was taken following consideration of a report on the situation in Bangladesh as prepared by WICB security manager Paul Slowe,’ the statement said.
‘The report emphasised that the current security environment in Bangladesh is not conducive to the playing of cricket in light of the 72-hour nationwide blockade and calls for countrywide dawn-to-dusk protest,’ said the statement. 
‘Travel arrangements are being made to allow for the team’s return to the Caribbean as quickly as possible. The team will remain safely accommodated at the team hotel under adequate security protection until departure from Bangladesh.’
This is for the first time in the history of Bangladesh cricket that a visiting team have pulled out citing security reason, which left the BCB officials dumbstruck. Earlier only one cricket series was postponed in Bangladesh for security reasons but that had nothing to do with the visiting side.
In 2009, Bangladesh had cancelled a five-match one-day international series against Pakistan as they were unable to provide security to the visiting team in the wake of a deadly mutiny at country’s paramilitary force BDR headqurters.
The BCB officials were unsure about how to react to the WICB decision and the time difference between the two countries also left the officials handicapped.
BCB chief executive officer Nizamuddin Chowdhury said on Monday afternoon that he has already sent a letter to his West Indian counterpart and is waiting for his response.
‘We are trying to revive the series as the management of the touring party is convinced by our arrangement,’ Chowdhury told New Age. ‘We are confident that the things [political situation)] will be normal very soon and there is nothing to be really worried.’
The BCB did not receive any reply from the West Indies board when this report was filed, leaving the chance for them to be successful in reviving the series very slim.
Officials said if West Indies do not change their heart at the last moment, the visiting side could leave Dhaka today subject to the availability of air tickets.
BCB officials observed that the WICB was forced to take the decision following pressure from the guardians of the Under-19 boys who were scared amid reports of growing political violence in Bangladesh that left more than 70 people killed since late October.
‘No parents would want their children play cricket in a violent country. It does not matter who the target of this violence,’ said an official, preferring not to be named.  ‘We may be able to convince the West Indies board, but how can we convince these parents.’ 

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