Mashrafe Mortaza

Dhaka, July 21 (IANS) Seasoned Bangladesh pacer Mashrafe Bin Mortaza believes the English cricket team will tour the country, though a militant attack at a Dhaka cafe earlier this month has put the series in doubt.

The Tigers began their fitness camp for the England series on Wednesday morning under the supervision of Iftekharul Islam, standing in for trainer Mario Villavarayan, whose return to Bangladesh has been delayed due to the Gulshan cafe attack.

Although the players appeared cheerful for the most part, the unavoidable question surely lurked deep into their minds — will the series they are preparing for be held at all?

Mashrafe, however, maintained a positive outlook.

“We don’t really know the technical matters being discussed inside. The BCB (Bangladesh Cricket Board) is working on it. I personally hope the tour will continue. Bangladesh supporters are waiting to watch matches for a long time — they love the game,” the limited-overs skipper was quoted as saying by bdnews24.com on Thursday.

“England always helped Bangladesh. They came for the Under-19 World Cup when security concerns were still there. Even before that, they always stood beside Bangladesh.”

“I hope and personally believe they will come,” Mashrafe said.

England are scheduled to arrive in Bangladesh on September 30 for a five-week tour but a militant attack on a cafe in Gulshan upscale area on the night of July 1 has put the series under security cloud.

Following the attack, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said it would observe the situation in the coming weeks and months and follow government instructions with regard to the tour.

Later, England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, too, voiced his apprehension. But Mashrafe relayed a message over to the ECB and the England team.

“People of Bangladesh love cricket. They talk about it everywhere. The Bangladeshis know how to respect cricketers and foreigners. I don’t think there will be any trouble.”

“England have been given proper security before and that will be ensured this time as well. I hope they come. It will be a good series.”

An ECB security team is likely to arrive in Bangladesh next month to assess the situation.

The England board, however, is in touch with the BCB to stay up-to-date about issues like travelling, training facilities, and other logistics.

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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