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Umpires: 'They deserted us'
Australian umpires say they were 'expecting a bullet' after police allegedly fled.
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2009 09:20 GMT

Sri Lanka's Tharanga Paranavitana recovers after having a bullet taken from his chest [AFP]

The two Australian umpires caught up in the attack by gunmen on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan have slammed security men for deserting them "in their hour of need".

Steve Davis and Simon Taufel echoed complaints from English match referee Chris Broad in claiming they were abandoned by Pakistan security forces when a dozen attackers opened fire on them on Tuesday.

Two Sri Lanka players have meanwhile had bullets removed by surgery – and Bangladesh have cancelled next week's home series against Pakistan citing security concerns.

Left alone

"In our hour of need we were left on our own," Taufel said after arriving in Sydney on Thursday.

"I'm angry that we were isolated. I'm angry that we didn't get the same level of security that the players got."

Davis said the match officials had been promised high-level protection but security forces left them to fend for themselves after rushing to the aid of the players.

"We were certainly left without any security in our van when we were being fired upon," Davis said at Melbourne airport.

"The security obviously went with the Sri Lankan bus. When they managed to get away, we were left there and no one came back for us."

The umpires and players all came under attack while they were being driven in a convoy to the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore for the third day of the second Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Driver killed

The driver of their van was among seven people killed in the ambush, leaving the officials stranded in the crossfire as they were unable to follow the team bus into the stadium.

Davis umpires the second Test two days ahead of the attack [AFP]
"The driver's foot was lodged on the accelerator and it was revving at a million miles an hour," Davis said.

"Eventually a police officer came from somewhere, dragged the driver's body out, and drove us at top speed to the stadium."

The match officials instinctively threw themselves on the floor of the van when the gunfire erupted.

A local umpire, Ahsan Raza, was critically injured and Taufel said the other officials were also expecting to be shot while they were lying on the floor waiting for help.

"We were caught in a war zone," Taufel said.

"The gunfire...it just kept going. We thought, when's it going to stop?

"Who's going to come and save us, how are we going to get out of here? I was expecting a bullet."

'Sitting ducks'

The comments from the Australians follow similar complaints from Broad, who said on his return to Britain that he and colleagues were left like "sitting ducks".

Pakistan authorities have defended their security arrangements against the criticism.

Six Pakistani policemen were killed in the gunfire.

"There's a bit of anger there that we were let down," Davis said.

"We had all sorts of assurances before and I'm sure the team feels that way too.

"Despite all that, this was still able to happen and we were put in a very vulnerable position and felt very helpless."

Taufel rated the protection they were given as two out of 10.

'Broken promise'

"We were promised a nine and got delivered a two," Taufel said.

"You tell me why supposedly 20 armed commandos were in our convoy and when the team bus got going again we were left on our own? I don't have any answers to these questions."

Both umpires were still visibly shaken by the incident when they fronted the media on their arrivals to their home ports in Australia.

Taufel, who has won the International Cricket Council's umpiring award each of the five seasons it has been presented, said he was uncertain about his future while Davis said he wanted reassurances before returning to the subcontinent.

"I think I'm still numb," Davis said.

"I couldn't fathom this was happening to a group of umpires who were here to umpire cricket.

"I was naive to think cricket was above all that.

"I'll just go and do my job but obviously I want to make sure we get all the assurances and the security that we are promised.

"I'm sure there'll be a lot of soul searching from this and a lot of questions asked."

Bullet surgery

Thilan Samaraweera has undergone successful surgery to have a bullet removed from his leg after the batsman was shot in the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus.

Samaraweera scored a double century the day before the attack [AFP]
The 32-year-old, the most seriously wounded of the six Sri Lanka players hurt in the ambush, had a bullet lodged in his left thigh.

"I am feeling better and I'm very happy to be back in Colombo with my wife Erandathie and my children," Samaraweera said in a statement.

"The surgeon told us that it must have been a 'lucky bullet' because somehow it missed all the important bits of nerve tissue, tendons and ligaments."

Samaraweera went on to praise the driver of the bus, whose quick thinking and bravery helped the team escape the scene of the attack.

"I certainly feel lucky to have survived and I would also like to sincerely thank the driver, Khalil, for showing such courage to get the team bus away from the gunmen."

Samaraweera has abandoned plans to play county cricket in England this year and hopes to be back to full fitness for Sri Lanka's next Test series against Pakistan in July.

"Like my fellow players, I want to get back playing cricket as soon as possible. Cricket is my passion and my profession," he said.

Shards removed

Of the other players wounded, Sri Lanka vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara was discharged from hospital on Thursday morning after minor surgery a day earlier to remove shards of metal from his shoulder.

Spinner Ajantha Mendis will remain in hospital after he had two operations on Wednesday to remove shrapnel from his lower back and head.

He is not expected to play for between four-to-six weeks.

Tharanga Paravitana is expected to be released from hospital later on Thursday after being monitored for a bullet wound to the chest.

Mahela Jayawardene and Suranga Lakmal have both been released from hospital after their minor wounds were dressed.

Assistant coach Paul Farbrace will remain in hospital until at least Friday while his arm injury is monitored.

Source:
Agencies
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