ICL: Indian Cricket League

England players will not be forced to do anything


England’s cricketers will not be forced to return to India for the two-Test series, Hugh Morris, the ECB’s managing director for England cricket, said as the squad arrived back in London on Saturday evening.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Morris said the England team was committed to returning to India if it was “safe and secure” to do so. A decision could be made in two days time as to the fate of the series with Morris adding that the latest safety briefing will be compiled over the next 48 hours. He admitted they were working to a “very short timescale” with the first Test still scheduled to start in Ahmedabad on December 11.

“I don’t think we’d force anybody to do anything,” Morris told reporters at Heathrow Airport. “We’ve returned to assess the safety and security situation in India [and] the remainder of the tour of India,” he said. “We have a team of people that we rely on for our safety and security information. They’re pulling that information together over the next 24 to 48 hours and, clearly, we’ll assess that information when we have it.

“Clearly, we are committed to going back and playing in a Test series if it is safe to do so,” he said. “Would I go back? If it was safe and secure, absolutely.”

But even as Morris was facing the media, rumours were circulating that some players had already made up their minds. A report in the Sunday Telegraph claimed that Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, as well as another unnamed bowler, were set to announce they would not return for the Tests because of pressure from their families.

The one warm-up match is due to start on Friday, meaning England realistically have to be flying back to India by Wednesday at the latest if they want to make that fixture. An option to give extra breathing space and allow a few more days to assess the situation in India would be to prepare in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi. “That’s an option were are actively looking at, but the information we get in the next 48 hours will determine the programme leading into the first Test,” Morris added.

Despite the assurances that England will return if it is safe, Morris did add that there was unease within the England camp having watched graphic footage of the developments on TV. The team stayed at one of the affected hotels, the Taj Mahal, at the start of the tour and were due there again on December 16.

“Everybody has been affected by the terrible goings-on in Mumbai,” Morris said. “It has affected the players as much as anybody. There’s a degree of nervousness, there’s no doubt about that. That’s only natural. It’s affected everybody.”

His thoughts were echoed by Kevin Pietersen, writing in his News of the World column. “I’m still shaking from the terrorist atrocities in Mumbai,” he said. “We were 800 miles from the attack, but suddenly we felt very vulnerable, especially as we had stayed at the targeted Taj Mahal Hotel just two weeks ago.”

The BCCI shifted the second Test from Mumbai to the southern city of Chennai, which is scheduled to be played from December 19 to 23.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Sunday, November 30th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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