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Ireland carefully consider security risks after being offered Australia's place at World Cup

The tournament is being staged in Bangladesh at the end of this month.

The Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka will host the final.
The Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka will host the final.

CRICKET IRELAND OFFICIALS are holding discussions with the Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as other authorities, before deciding whether to accept an invitation to participate at the Under 19 World Cup.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) offered Ireland the opportunity to take part in the prestigious tournament after Cricket Australia withdrew their team over security concerns.

The tournament is being staged in Bangladesh between 27 January and 14 February, with eight cities across the country hosting games.

Australia’s senior men’s team cancelled their month-long tour of Bangladesh last October due to security fears after Cricket Australia had received ‘reliable information’ about a possible security risk.

Australia have been monitoring the situation in Bangladesh since and this morning confirmed its decision to pull out of the global event.

It affords Ireland the chance to play in their first U19 World Cup in six years after the side narrowly missed out on qualification last year.

However, Cricket Ireland are presently weighing up its options before rushing into a decision as Chief Executive Warren Deutrom continues to liaise with the relevant authorities.

“This is a great cricketing opportunity but security always comes first,” Deutrom told The42. “We will only accept this offer on the grounds we are happy that the arrangements adequately mitigate the associated risks.

“We are currently in the process of consulting with the Department of Foreign Affairs and receiving advice from independent risk assessment reports. There are so many moving parts and we are under huge pressure to make the right call.

“We need to ensure it is feasible for our players and staff to enter that environment and give the parents of the players assurances everything has been done to ensure the safety of all involved.”

Fiachra Tucker, Ben White, Colin Curry, Lorcan Tucker and Jack Tector 17/9/2014 Ireland U19 players Lorcan Tucker, Ben White, Colin Currie, Fiachra Tucker and captain Jack Tector. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Although Australia, three-time winners of the competition, have pulled out, the other 15 nations have accepted the ICC’s security report and are happy to partake in the 19-day event.

Deutrom has been working closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Scotland, alongside the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, over the last 24 hours.

The ICC insists it takes its responsibilities over safety and security extremely seriously and expressed its disappointment at Australia’s decision.

With the tournament a matter of weeks away, the governing body is pushing Cricket Ireland to make a decision as quickly as possible.

“We have moved quickly to identify the perceived risks but the problem is the Australian experts have said X and the ICC have said Y. There is a difference of opinion there and therein lies the uncertainty,” Deutrom explained.

“We will only go if we are completely satisfied with the information we’ve received because there is an awful lot to consider.”

Cricket Ireland were made aware of Australia’s uncertainty before Christmas and logistical preparations have started should the green light be given for the squad to travel to Bangladesh.

The preparation window to finalise the team’s itinerary, book flights, arrange the relevant visas for each travelling member and organise playing and training kits will be just 10-12 days.

Player availability is also an issue with many of the squad returning to school or college after the Christmas break.

“We need to move as quickly as possible with this,” Deutrom continues. “We have to get the answers for the parents and players because they will have questions. We cannot be reckless in making a decision simply because this is a great cricketing opportunity.”

Ireland finished as runners-up at the qualifying tournament in Malaysia last October, agonisingly missing out on a place among the 16 competing nations.

Therefore, the invitation affords this group of players and the organisation to showcase its wares on a global stage at a tournament which has a reputation for nurturing the sport’s next stars.

Ireland would be in Pool D alongside India, New Zealand and Nepal, although the tournament structure may yet be adjusted following Australia’s withdrawal.

Deutrom hopes he will be in a position to make a decision this evening and notify the ICC by Wednesday morning.

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Ryan Bailey

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