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Teams two, yardsticks too

Aug. 16: The decision by Cricket South Africa (CSA) to pull out of the tri-series in Sri Lanka, citing concerns over security, has come in for biting criticism from the hosts.

“CSA has been guided by a security report from a private agency (Dubai’s Olive Group)… What’s strange is that, to the best of our knowledge, nobody came to Colombo for an on-the-spot assessment.

“We can’t understand how people sitting in Dubai can prepare a report without a feel of the ground reality' It’s unacceptable and we’re going to raise the issue at the appropriate forum,” Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chief executive Duleep Mendis told The Telegraph.

The “independent” assessment was, in fact, commissioned by the International Cricket Council after a “request” from the South Africans as SLC and CSA simply weren’t on the same wavelength.

The world body is headed by South Africa’s Percy Sonn.

(According to CSA chief executive Gerald Majola, who spoke in Johannesburg, an emailed threat from the Tamil Tiger Youth was the “clinching factor”.)

Intriguingly, Olive Group didn’t study the possibility of threats to Team India as the South Africans alone were “unhappy” following Monday afternoon’s blast which killed at least seven.

The blast occurred in the chic Liberty Plaza area, less than 2 km from the South Africans’ hotel — Cinnamon Grand, once the Lanka Oberoi.

That the Indians were excluded from the assessment-exercise didn’t amuse Mendis.

“Surely, we’re hosting two teams, not just one… All should be treated equally… We certainly didn’t differentiate in the level of security offered to India and South Africa,” the former captain remarked.

Mendis added that the government had “guaranteed” security on the scale provided to a head of state, but the South Africans weren’t convinced.

“That was the maximum possible… It couldn’t have been bettered,” he said. The guarantee was given during parleys on Monday-Tuesday.

With the Mark Boucher-led team preparing to take the quickest connection home, the focus shifts to the quickly put together three-match series between India and Sri Lanka.

It begins Friday.

“We requested five ODIs, but the Indians had reservations about that many matches against the same opposition in such a short span of time…” Mendis pointed out.

Unitech remain sponsors, but the deal has to be reworked, with SLC losing big.

The South Africans, by the way, were outplayed in the two-Test series. With a couple of key men injured, they weren’t favourites for the tri-series either.

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