Blast worries South African cricketers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blast worries South African cricketers

15/08/2006 05:58:54 AM Comments (0)

South Africa are on the verge of pulling out of the Sri Lanka triangular series over heightened security fears in the aftermath of a bomb blast that killed seven people and injured 17 in the capital.

A security forces convoy escorting a Pakistan embassy vehicle was hit by a Claymore fragmentation mine, hours after a suspected rebel front threatened to bomb civilian targets.

The blast was within the town centre, around 1.6km from the team hotels.

Sri Lanka Cricket officials held emergency discussions with the South Africa and India team managers, coaches and security advisors, trying to reassure them that player safety was not threatened.

However, South Africa's Mickey Arthur said his players were still worried about the situation.

"The guys are worried, seriously worried and uncomfortable.

"This was very close to home," Arthur said.

"Had we had a day off today rather than it being a match day I can assure you plenty of our team would have been in the Liberty Plaza, so it's tough. It's not an easy situation," Arthur said.

"We understand exactly what the Sri Lanka board is saying, that the violence will never be aimed at cricket teams or any sporting events, but the point is that many of our guys would have been there if we hadn't been scheduled to play."

According to team sources, the team now want to return home and are awaiting a Cricket South Africa (CSA) decision.

Meanwhile, the Indian board has decided that it will stick to its commitment to play the series.

"We have been in constant touch with our players, the Sri Lankan board and the Indian High Commission and we are confident of the security measures provided by Sri Lanka," Indian board secretary Niranjan Shah told Reuters by telephone from Mumbai.

"We do not plan to pull out of the series," he added.

CSA have demanded guarantees their players will be safe.

"I would like to have guarantees that our players will be safe, and if I don't get those guarantees I will have no hesitation in withdrawing the squad from Sri Lanka," CSA general manager for cricket affairs Brian Basson told Reuters in South Africa.

Sri Lankan officials, hoping the series can still be rescued, say nothing final will be decided until another meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning.

South Africa's media manager George Templeton said: "The decision will be taken by the board, and it may happen before that meeting."

The Indian team, meanwhile, have requested that the highest possible security be provided to them, including secret travel plans, clear roads for all journeys and increased personal bodyguards.

A security blanket has also been introduced around the team hotels.

"We have agreed to all the extra security demands requested," Sri Lanka Cricket chairman Jayantha Dharmadasa told Reuters.

Sri Lanka Cricket officials will only start discussions with the Indian Cricket Board to see whether a two-team series can be played if South Africa pull out.

The opening match of the tournament, between Sri Lanka and South Africa, was washed out after persistent rain on Monday and put back to Tuesday.

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