Leading Australian cricketers have vowed to play in the Indian Premier League next month, saying they will not give in to terrorism after this week’s attack on the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan.
The brazen attack as the team headed to a Lahore stadium for the third day of the second Test against Pakistan left six police and two civilians dead, while seven Sri Lankan cricketers and a coach were among 19 people wounded.
Former England coach Duncan Fletcher has warned English cricketers heading to the IPL that, based on his experience, some types of terror attacks are easier to carry out in India than in Pakistan.
But Australia’s top cricketers led by high-profile paceman Brett Lee say they still want to play in the IPL.
“We can’t let this stop us going about what we do with our lives,” Lee told The Daily Telegraph.
Lee was joined by Nathan Bracken, Dave Hussey, Shane Watson, Brad Hodge and Dave Warner, who said they would not be persuaded to skip the IPL competition.
“It’s concerning that terrorism is impacting the sport,” Bracken said. “But I’ll still be going.”
On Wednesday, India’s home minister said he wanted the IPL tournament postponed because it clashed with general elections and security forces would be stretched to provide protection for both events.
With many of the world’s leading players set to arrive in India next month, the Federation of International Cricketers (FICA) has written to IPL organisers seeking increased security.
“We owe to it the game and all of its stakeholders to ensure that at all times cricket has not only access to, but implements ‘best practice’ security,” FICA chief executive Tim May said.
“We should leave no stone unturned in the search and implementation of such advice and procedures.”
Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, who plays under Shane Warne for the Rajasthan Royals, said he would be happy to go to India if FICA were able to meet the required security standards.
“You’re never safe anywhere, to be fair,” Watson said. “It’s part and parcel of the world environment at the moment, more than just a certain region.
“I love playing cricket and if the opportunity is there to go to India, I will be there with bells on.”
West Australian and Mohali coach Tom Moody, who also coached many of the Sri Lankan players injured in Lahore, said that terrorists could not be allowed to be seen to win.
“We can’t step away and seem that we’re beaten because of these individual acts,” Moody said.
“I’m sure security will be lifted to maximum level and players and officials should be able to be safe going forward, whether it’s the IPL or other tours in parts of the sub-continent.”