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Attacks pose serious threat to Champions League

Published: Thursday, November 27, 2008, 14:24 [IST]
 
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New Delhi:  A series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai has put the inaugural Champions League, early next month under serious threat with Cricket Australia (CA) suspending its teams' participation to India while Middlesex has also delayed its travel.

Considering the teams' apprehensions, the tournament organisers have already shifted the matches scheduled be played at Mumbai to Bangalore.

Middlesex was due to leave London for Mumbai today to prepare for the Champions League but postponed their departure by 24 hours after being told that the matches scheduled for Mumbai would be switched to Bangalore.

Skipper of the Middlesex team, Shaun Udal said the whole team was concerned about the terrorist activities and made it clear that he would not leave for the tournament unless he was given 100 per cent assurance.

''You'd be a big liar if you said no there are concerns, lots of us have families and children. It's not just a cricket tournament any more. If I am told everything is fine in Bangalore then we'll go.

''What has made it particularly disturbing is the fact that we were going to stay at the Taj Palace Hotel 24 hours later. That's really brought it to heart. If we had gone out 24 hours earlier then that would have been the Middlesex team. It could have been us.

That's what could have happened,'' Udal told the Daily Telegraph.

Middlesex coach Toby Radford said it would be difficult to travel to India under prevailing conditions and added that his team's participation is in doubt after the attacks in Mumbai.

''We have to consider whether players and their families are happy with us travelling. Can you go somewhere and feel safe when there are people injured just 24 hours before? ''Our participation and the tournament itself must be in some doubt. Personally I would rather not be anywhere near there,'' he added.

The Brabourne Stadium, venue of the second Test and scheduled to host three Champions League games, is in the middle of the area where most attacks have taken place. It is also the vicinity where most foreign tourists are likely to stay.

The Western Australia and Victoria are scheduled to play in the Champions League along with Test stars Mike Hussey, Matthew Hayden, Shane Watson and Warne representing Indian Premier League (IPL) teams.

''Given the circumstances, Cricket Australia has put an immediate halt on any cricket-related travel to India,'' said CA in a statement.

''We are in ongoing contact with DFAT, our own security expert in India, the Australian Cricketers' Association and our own playing groups and stakeholders,'' it added.

The Champions League will be contested between eight teams from India, Australia, South Africa, England and Pakistan over eight days.

CA spokesman Peter Young said, ''The state of play at the moment is that we are not expecting to have any really good understanding of what the situation is for the first 12 hours.

''We are basically on temporary hold while we assess the situation, while we get expert advice and while we consult all of the parties who are involved.

''I wouldn't expect we would be doing anything for at least the next 12 hours,'' Young was quoted as saying by AAP.

In the group phase of the eight-team tournament, Victoria are scheduled to play at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium on December 3 against English side Middlesex and the following day against IPL's Chennai Super Kings who boast Australian stars Hayden and Hussey.

UNI

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