Following a bomb blast in Colombo on Monday
which killed seven people including the Pakistani High Commissioner, Sri Lankan
cricket authorities have decided to cancel the opening game of a ODI tri-series between Sri Lanka, India and South Africa
after the South African team expressed concerns regarding their safety.

Both India and
South Africa have decided to remain in the country despite the bomb detonating
close to their hotel in a high security zone, after being assured that
“the team and cricket in general do not appear to be targets in the general
unrest in Sri Lanka”.

Despite these soothing words, the South
African players are said to have voiced serious misgivings about staying on,
but without ICC approval the team could face penalties of up to $2 million. The
ICC’s view is that it is does not want to create a precedent by allowing a team
to go home if players fear for their safety, because it could have
ramifications in Zimbabwe and England.

Sensing the team’s unrest, the CEO of Cricket South Africa
had planned to fly to Colombo to talk to players yesterday, but decided
not to at the last minute, satisfied all steps were being taken to
protect players. The final, to be
held in the capital, will take place on 2 September instead of 29 August, in
order to give more time for security arrangements.

Not taking any
chances, Cricket Victoria have decided to withdraw a youth development team
currently in Colombo, with chief executive Ken Jacobs saying: “This is a
young team whose families are obviously extremely concerned about them … the
majority view was that they think it would probably be better to return home.”

Peter Fray

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