Ireland last participated in the Under-19 World Cup in 2012 © ICC/Getty
Ireland will send a team to the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh, taking the place of Australia. Cricket Ireland had indicated on Tuesday that it was likely to accept the ICC’s invitation to step in, although it now faces a challenge to arrange logistics with just three weeks until the start of the tournament.
Australia withdrew from the World Cup due to concerns over security, with CA chief executive James Sutherland citing “reliable information suggesting there is a high threat to Australian interests in Bangladesh”. Australia’s Test team also pulled out of a tour of Bangladesh last year
“Firstly, we are grateful to ICC for extending the invitation to us to participate in the tournament,” Cricket Ireland’s chief executive, Warren Deutrom, said. “Given the circumstances of the invitation, however, it was important that we used the brief time we had to investigate the safety and security situation in Bangladesh.
“While we are fully aware of the heightened security risk in the country, all we can do is rely upon expert advice, which tells us that the tournament security plan appears very comprehensive – an estimation supported by the independent assessments we have seen. Of course, we shall continue to monitor events and maintain regular contact with ICC in case the situation changes.”
Current advice from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office warns of a “high threat from terrorism in Bangladesh” and tells British tourists “to remain vigilant and take appropriate safety precautions”. Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade suggests visitors to Bangladesh “exercise caution”.
Cricket Ireland has also been able to work in conjunction with the ECB and Cricket Scotland, both of which have teams participating in the tournament.
It is not known if any Ireland players have expressed concern about travelling to Bangladesh but, speaking before the decision was made, Deutrom said that the make-up of the squad was yet to be determined and could be influenced by the short timeframe.
“We’re dealing with a number of enquiries, from players, parents and staff members, all saying what’s happening,” he said. “There’s an awful lot to digest in a short period of time from a security perspective … We’ve been doing our own independent security assessments and we’ve got to speak to our insurers and that’s before we even look at things such as selection – are the players even available, provision of kit, visas.”
Deutrom compared the situation with that of the 2014 World T20, which “went off without incident”, and said that Ireland had been reassured by security plans drawn up by the ICC and BCB that were of “the same level that would be applied to a senior World Cup”.
He added: “As our men’s and women’s squads discovered during the World T20, Bangladeshi people are incredibly welcoming and passionate about their cricket, so I’m certain our Under-19’s will look forward enormously to playing there.”
Ireland will replace Australia in Group D and play India in their first match, on January 28 in Mirpur. Nepal, who originally pipped Ireland to the final place at the tournament by winning the ICC Qualifier in October, and New Zealand are the other teams in the group.
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo