SA cricketers rattled by Colombo blast

Sri Lankan cricket officials said security concerns following Monday’s bombing in the capital won’t stop the cricket tri-series, but South Africa indicated they may pull out of the tour.

“The cricket series will go on as scheduled,” Sri Lanka Cricket spokesperson Samantha Algama said.

India are the third team involved in the series that is to conclude on August 29.

Algama said Sri Lanka Cricket’s chief executive, Duleep Mendis, held an emergency meeting with the coaches and managers of the three teams soon after the blast occurred about 4km from the hotels where they were staying.

At least seven people, including four army commandos, were killed and several others were wounded when an auto rickshaw packed with explosives blew up.

“All three teams have agreed to continue the series during their meeting with Mendis,” Algama said. “Mendis has promised maximum security to the teams. Everyone’s concerned with the situation about the security, and also the weather that has already disrupted the tri-series.”

The Indian team’s media manager, Rajan Nair, said his players had just finished lunch when they heard of the blast.
“There’s no panic,” Nair said.

South Africa’s coach, Micky Arthur, said the bombing “was quite close to home”.

“The officials tried to explain how teams were least likely to be targeted, but it’s pretty worrying,” Arthur said.

He said had South Africa not been scheduled to play on Monday, many of the players might have been at Liberty Plaza market area, where the bomb exploded.

The South African team’s media officer, Gordon Templeton, said the cricket board is aware of the situation and will review it Tuesday morning. “The decision on weather or not to continue the tour will be taken after our meeting with Sri Lanka’s cricket officials tomorrow,” Templeton said. “The team is getting recommendation from the security personnel who travel with it.”

News of the blast came after the opening match of the tri-series was disrupted by heavy showers that lashed the Premadasa Stadium.

Not a ball was bowled on Monday in the tri-series opener between hosts Sri Lanka and South Africa. The game was rescheduled for Tuesday, the reserve day.

Beside the cricket series, Colombo this month is also hosting the multiple-sport South Asian Games, which will feature nearly 1 000 athletes from eight nations. The event’s soccer competition began on Monday, but proceedings officially kick off on Friday.—Sapa-AP

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