I have every sympathy for any England player who may hold reservations about travelling to Bangladesh for October’s Test and one-day series due to security concerns.
After all, 20 hostages were killed in Dhaka, the venue for one of the scheduled Test matches – the other will be played in Chittagong – when five gunmen attacked a cafe in July.
Following his record-breaking one-day knock against Pakistan at Trent Bridge on Tuesday, opener Alex Hales became the latest player to express his worry over the tour. No player has yet publicly confirmed their intention to travel and it is a tricky one.
Security checks are there for a reason and Reg Dickason, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s security adviser, reported last week that it is safe to travel. Generally, if the security reports are good then, as a player, you always want to back such findings but it’s not always easy.
With everything that has gone on in the world over the last couple of years, it is only natural that players are going to fear for their safety. Cricket isn’t the be all and end all and you have to think about your life. Safety is paramount.
There are other implications to take into account, however. Missing a tour can also come back and bite you in other ways. If someone comes in and does well and takes your place then that can impact upon you forever.
FEELING THE PRESSURE
Spinner Robert Croft opted against touring India in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and he never played for England again.
There is plenty of competition for places in this England side so that might be particularly pertinent at the moment. If a batsman comes in and scores a couple of hundreds or a bowler takes a five-wicket haul then they’re likely to stay in the team.
If I was faced with this decision, it would probably boil down to my status in the team. If I was a fringe player then I would be feeling the pressure to go, whereas if I was a centrally contracted player I would be a lot more relaxed about saying no.
For someone like Joe Root, for instance, who is on a central contract and knows his place in the side is safe, any decision of this nature is much easier compared to a player who is trying to nail down his spot. In the latter’s case it becomes a whole lot trickier.
My decision would almost certainly be influenced by the wider picture of where I was in the pecking order.