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Will IPL foreign stars return after Jaipur blasts?
Gulu Ezekiel | May 14, 2008 12:03 IST
Will Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Warne [Images] and South Africa's captain Graeme Smith [Images] be on the first plane out of India following the series of deadly bomb blasts across Jaipur on Tuesday night?
Going by the recent track record of the Australian and South African cricket teams that would appear to be the case.
Unless of course things are different when it comes to playing in the Indian Premier League as against representing your country!
It may be recalled that Cricket Australia cancelled last month's scheduled tour of Pakistan following a series of bomb blasts there.
That enabled Andrew Symonds [Images], who openly expressed his reluctance to tour Pakistan, Brett Lee [Images], Matthew Hayden [Images] Ricky Ponting [Images] and others to play in the early matches in the IPL before they were called away for national duty in the West Indies.
In fact, Australia have not visited Pakistan for a full series since 1994-95.
In 2002 the two countries played a Test series in the neutral venue of Sharjah following the 9/11 attacks in the United States and the subsequent US attack on Afghanistan.
South Africa, with Smith in charge, too abandoned a tour of Sri Lanka [Images] in 2006 after bomb blasts there.
Back in 1996 Australia and the West Indies [Images] refused to play their World Cup matches in Colombo after a devastating bomb attack killed hundreds in the Lankan capital.
Both teams forfeited their points but Australia reached the final in Lahore [Images] where ironically they were beaten by Sri Lanka.
However, the Australian team decided to stay on in England [Images] after the terrorist attacks on buses and trains that struck London [Images] at the start of the Ashes series in July 2005. Only Jason Gillespie among the tourists publicly made a statement expressing his apprehensions.
Rajasthan Royals are currently on the top of IPL points table after beating Delhi Daredevils in Jaipur on Sunday.
They now have 14 points from nine matches, losing just two and remain the only team to have won all five of their matches at their Jaipur "fortress" as Warne describes the Sawai Man Singh stadium.
Two points behind Rajasthan are Punjab XI Kings and Chennai Super Kings.
Currently Warne and his boys are enjoying a well-deserved five day break in Goa [Images] before their next game at home on Saturday against bottom-placed Bangalore Royal Challengers.
Warne is of course retired from international cricket and has no connections with his national body, Cricket Australia.
Apart from Warne and Smith, the other foreign players in the squad are Sohail Tanveer, Kamran Akmal and Younis Khan of Pakistan, Morne Morkel of South Africa and Warne's fellow-countryman Shane Watson.
Dmitri Mascarenhas, the lone Englishman in the IPL went back home after Sunday's match.
The writer is a freelance sports journalist based in New Delhi