A nervous ECB is to keep tabs on the developing security situation at India’s airports as the England squad fly out to Abu Dhabi to prepare for their two Tests in Chennai and Mohali.
Major airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai have been put on high alert after reports they had received threats of attacks by hijacked aircraft, adding to the tense atmosphere surrounding the future of the tour.
“Obviously we’re concerned, but what we need to do is find out the information,” said Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, at Heathrow airport ahead of the squad’s departure for the Middle East. “I’ve spoken to the security team in Chennai this morning already to find out exactly what the situation is with the alerts. When we get that information it’ll be fed back to me, to the board and form part of the security audit that we’re undertaking.
“We feel as though going to Abu Dhabi provides us with practice before the first Test match, and it also gives us some more time to implement our security plans on the ground - they are in Chennai at the moment - and that is how we’re proceeding.”
Kevin Pietersen, the England captain, said he’d seen news of the airport situation this morning but insisted he was concentrating on the Test series. “It’ll buy us some more time in Abu Dhabi and I think it’s fantastic that we’re going to demonstrate in India that we’re showing our support to play Test match cricket. I think it’s very important we go and rub shoulder to shoulder with the indian people in their time of need, and I’m very confident that we have 15 lads who will be playing Test cricket next week.”
Nevertheless, Pietersen conceded that the tour was not yet set in stone, and warned that the team could yet turn on its heel and fly back to England if the all-important security report did not give them the all-clear. Hugh and Sean Morris, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, are flying straight to India to meet up with Reg Dickason, the ECB security advisor, who has been assessing the venues in recent days. They are then due to meet the England squad in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to deliver a final security report, at which point the decision will be made as to whether to proceed to India.
“I think there’s a collective at the moment,” Pietersen said. “The guys that go out there now are waiting on the reports from Hugh, Sean and Reg to come back to us on Sunday night, and if there are any major catastrophes, or alarm bells ringing, Hugh will be ringing the board to say the collective decision is to come home.”
Such a prospect would be anathema to the ECB, who have been eager for this tour to resume ever since the one-day series was hastily postponed, but Hugh Morris - who engineered last week’s break - said: “The one thing we don’t want to do is twist someone’s arm up their back.
“Over the next couple of days we’ll be collecting absolutely up-to-date information and presenting that to the players,” said Morris. “I would like to think if our security team came back and said it was safe and secure, we would all go over there. If the situation isn’t safe and secure, I’ll be making a call to the board. The board have made it very clear that the safety and security of the team is of paramount importance.”
For the time being, a full England squad has been named despite speculation that a number of players would pull out and Pietersen said time at home helped everyone come to their decision.
“Everyone has become a lot more open-minded, spoken to family members, and realise that it’s pretty huge to go back at India’s time of need. The boys want to go and play Test cricket. I’m very confident that if everything goes according to plan we’ll have a full squad to pick from.”
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, ECB, england, Heathrow Airport, Hugh Morris, India, Kevin Pietersen, Mohali, Mumbai, Reg Dickason
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Friday, December 5th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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