The Australian Men’s Cricket team was due to depart for Dhaka for a two Test series on Monday, 28th September. However, those plans quickly changed when Cricket Australia were informed that militant groups may target Australians or western interests.
Cricket Australia were on the front-foot straight away, sending over their head of security, Sean Carroll, to have high level discussions and gain a better understanding of the situation from the Bangladesh Government, Bangladesh Cricket Association and the High Commission.
Unfortunately, the information provided by all government parties had not changed upon Carroll’s arrival home, and on Thursday night, Cricket Australia announced that the Tour of Bangladesh had to be postponed.
Head of high performance, Pat Howard commented that it was “extremely disappointing for them (the Australian players).”
“You are selected for your country to go across to Bangladesh for a two test series with a new team. It was a huge opportunity for Steve Smith and his young side.”
Looking at the squad, there would be plenty of players disappointed that the two Test series has been cancelled, as it was their chance to shine in front of selectors on the all important sub-continent conditions.
Amongst the squad, there could have been two Test debutants: Cameron Bancroft and Andrew Fekete.
Then you have the likes of Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns, who haven’t played Test cricket since August 2013, October 2014 and January 2015 respectively.
Khawaja has had to work extremely hard to gain another Test call up. He moved states and scored a mountain of runs. Therefore I can only imagine how disappointed he would feel.
James Faulkner, recalled to the Australian colours after the embarrassing incident in England, would have had the chance to put all that behind him.
Other players such as Shaun Marsh and Peter Siddle, each of whom played a single Test in the Ashes campaign, needed the time in the middle instead of the nets, to again remind the selectors how valuable they can be to an Australian side.
Finally, let’s not forget my spin brother, Stephen O’Keefe. At age 30, he has played the one Test in October 2014 vs Pakistan in Dubai. Another opportunity would have been extremely important, in staking his claim as the number two spinner in the longer format.
On the flip side, I am sure that there are some players and coaching staff that will welcome a little more time at home. Those few have been on the road since winning the World Cup in late March.
Whilst this was a missed opportunity, I completely agree with the decision that Cricket Australia made in conjunction with the Australian Cricketers Association and Government officials.
James Sutherland, chief executive of Cricket Australia made a salient point in a media conference on Sunday that “whilst we are in the business of playing cricket, our first point of call is the safety and security of the players and staff. “
So what does this mean for the 14-man squad?
All players have been instructed to head back to their respective state teams, to participate in the Matador Cup, (white ball domestic one-day cricket competition) beginning on Monday.
This does cause good headaches and problems of plenty for the state teams as they make room for their International stars.
This trickle down effect may mean that younger players, who were possibly just starting their career, might have to wait a little longer to don on their state colours.
However, those players may well be enlisted in the Cricket Australia XI squad designed to give further opportunities to promising young players around the country.
Although the inclusion of the International stars in the one-day domestic competition will be a boost for fans in NSW to come out and see them in action, it does mean that the Test players will now have only one Sheffield Shield match (red-ball cricket) prior to their Test against New Zealand in November.
To assist in the players’ preparation, Cricket Australia has scheduled a two-day red-ball camp to take place at a NSW suburban ground, Hurstville. It will be held in-between the Matador cup.
It isn’t the most ideal preparation that the team would have wanted. However, given the situation they faced in Bangladesh, this is truly the best outcome for all involved.
We will have to wait until 5th November to see if the postponed tour of Bangladesh will have an adverse effect on the Australian Men’s team when they take to the field in the first ever day-night Test.