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IPL faces Aussie player backlash

The terrorist attack on Sri Lanka's cricketers has sent shock waves through the Australian cricket team and players are seeking advice on participation in the IPL and the one-day matches against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates later this month.

The Times reported yesterday that England stars Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff were having second thoughts about playing in the lucrative IPL after Tuesday's attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.

Six policemen and two civilians were killed, former Pakistan Test cricketer Ahsan Raza, who was the reserve umpire for the Pakistan-Sri Lanka series, was critically injured and five players and an assistant coach suffered less serious wounds.

Ricky Ponting's team woke after a night celebrating the first Test win in Johannesburg and heard reports as they gathered to catch the flight to Durban for the second Test.

At the airport the Australians were desperate to find out whether the Sri Lankan players were all right. The team was in Australia last year and is highly respected in world cricket.

Simon Katich plays in the IPL and English county cricket with some of the Sri Lankans and was anxious to find out how they were after the attack.

"A couple of our guys from the Mohali Kings XI team, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, were involved and I play with Chaminda Vaas in county cricket," he said. "Trevor Bayliss was our coach in NSW so it kind of hits home when you know the blokes.

"Thank god they are all right. It's just unbelievable, they were just sitting on the bus on the way to the ground like all of us do and have done all over the world."

Ponting said the players were concerned about competing in the IPL.

"I think there would have been concerns about playing there after Mumbai," he said. "That's still pretty fresh in everyone's mind. I read last night that Pakistan took responsibility for what happened in Mumbai and it looks like there might have been some Indians involved in this one in Pakistan from what I saw last night.

"I'm not going to the IPL and some of the guys that could potentially be going there will have all those things to think about as well, more so than they did before."

The Australian one-day squad is due to play Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates after this tour because it would not play in Pakistan.

Those with IPL contracts who are not in the one-day squad were planning to go straight to India while those in the one-day team would join them later. Katich said selection for the one-day squad would influence who is available for the IPL.

"I will take some time to think about it. We will seek out some guidance from the Australian Cricketers Association. It is too early to know what will happen," he said. "It's a wait-and-see approach at this time."

Other players have taken the same approach with the IPL, which is scheduled for nine Indian venues from April 10-May 24. Adam Gilchrist, who has retired from international cricket but is still playing in the IPL, described the attack in Lahore on Tuesday as tragic.

"From a personal perspective I'll try to gather more detail and learn more about the situation then assess it from there," Gil-christ said.

Glenn McGrath's manager Warren Craig expects the ACA to advise him and McGrath of the security situation in India following the latest attack.

ACA chief executive Paul Marsh is in Dubai with a Cricket Australia delegation and security experts doing a routine pre-tour inspection of venues for next month's one-day series against Pakistan.

He said the ACA would take its advice from the Federation of International Cricketers Associations after an overwhelming number of international players told FICA they wanted an independent security assessment of the IPL.

This is complicated because the IPL, like its parent the Board of Control for Cricket in India, does not recognise player associations. FICA has twice written to the IPL without a response.

"It becomes far more difficult to make an accurate assessment of security without the co-operation of the IPL and BCCI," Marsh said.

There have been further complications, with India's home minister P Chidambaram requesting the IPL be postponed because it clashes with the country's general elections.

"It will be difficult to provide paramilitary forces for 40 matches and the elections too," Chidambaram said.

"I don't want my forces to be strained. (Postponing the IPL) would be a better proposition."

Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, said there was no question of the tournament being called off. "We have taken into account government sensibilities, but I am sure even the Home Minister wouldn't want the whole country to come to a standstill during the elections," he said. "We may revise the schedule of matches within the April-May window to ensure there is no clash with the election days."

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