Australian
fast bowler Jason Gillespie has every right to express concern for the welfare
or safety of the touring party including any wives and families visiting the UK
over the spate of bomb attacks in London.
But he is also out of order in flagging to the media a possible Ashes
tour abandonment if there was another terrorist attack.

The Age
reports Gillespie as telling Melbourne’s 3AW:

“If another
bomb did go off here in England, there would be serious questions asked, I
think, about the tour because I know a lot of the guys are quite nervous. A lot of guys have got their families and
wives here and it’s not so much us, it’s them as well.”

However,
whatever reservations the Australian team may have about the London attacks, for
Gillespie to publicly raise the possibility of the tour being cancelled and
stating another attack could be “the final straw”, is a subject that should be
totally off-limits to anyone but team management such is its sensitivity. Terrorism feeds off these kinds of
remarks and there’s not the slightest doubt the Australian or British Government
would both view any such cancellation as a massive loss of face and a huge
propaganda victory in the face of terrorist provocation if there was no direct
threat to either Ashes combatants.

It is not for
Gillespie to be speculating as to what circumstances could see his team ducking
for cover or offering any terrorist the prospect of a “win”. His team management is receiving regular
updates on security matters and also has its own full-time consultant to monitor
the situation.

Given all the
attacks have been concentrated on London public transport it hardly seems a
problem for the team itself right now, with only the Fifth Test still to come in
the capital to be played at The Oval from September 8-12. However, if the team is so worried about
their families they should order them home or at least away from London. But should they still wish to take it
upon themselves to be in London or use public transport, you can hardly expect
Cricket Australia to cancel a tour that doesn’t fit in with their private social
prerogatives?

By stating
conditions under which terrorism might hit English and Australian cricket right
out of the ground by having The Ashes abandoned, Gillespie has – to borrow from
another sport “kicked an own goal”.

Peter Fray

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