(AFP) – Sep 17, 2008
CANBERRA (AFP) — Security concerns in the wake of a series of bomb attacks could still scupper the Australian cricket team's upcoming tour of India, captain Ricky Ponting indicated Wednesday.
The team and officials will constantly monitor the situation with the assistance of the Australian government ahead of their scheduled departure this weekend, Ponting said.
"Anything could happen tomorrow, things change very quickly in the world right at the moment," he told reporters in Canberra.
"Cricket Australia will continue to be in touch and the government will continue to be in touch, and Cricket Australia will keep us players and the players' association in the loop on a daily, if not hourly basis."
Cricket Australia said Tuesday the tour would go ahead despite five coordinated bomb blasts which ripped through crowded markets across the Indian capital on Saturday evening, killing more than 20 people.
The 15-man squad is due to leave this weekend with the first of four Tests starting in Bangalore on October 9. Delhi will host one Test match from October 29.
Ponting said Australia's foreign affairs department had been providing detailed information to Cricket Australia about the security situation.
Cricket Australia general manager Michael Brown rejected claims that the tour of India would go ahead despite the bombings because of money or the power of Indian cricket's governing body.
While there were reciprocal obligations with India in terms of tours, security would always be central to deciding whether a tour went ahead.
"The only reasons we can't play and participate is for security reasons and we'll keep monitoring those as time goes by," Brown said.
Cricket Australia's decision to go ahead with the tour of India drew scathing criticism from Pakistan on Tuesday.
Australia was one of the nations that declined to tour Pakistan this month for the International Cricket Council's Champions Trophy on security grounds, which led to the tournament being put off by a year.
Australia also refused to undertake a Test tour of Pakistan in March-April for similar security fears.
Pakistan Cricket Board chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi said their decision to tour India smacked of double standards.
"Pakistan is as safe a country as India and we had even promised state level security for the Australians and other teams," Naghmi told AFP.
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