ICL: Indian Cricket League

Moores doubtful over Flintoff and Harmison


With less than 24 hours before the fate of England’s tour of India is decided, Peter Moores has admitted that both Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison remain concerned about returning to the subcontinent for the two-Test series which begins on Thursday.

England flew back from India after the Mumbai terrorists struck several high-profile establishments. Ever since, the tour’s future has been in doubt. But in flying to the halfway-house of Abu Dhabi on Friday, and with their security consultant Reg Dickason assessing the venues in Chennai and Mohali, it is still hoped that the series will go ahead. A final decision will be made once Hugh Morris, managing director of England Cricket, and Sean Morris, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, return to the players’ camp in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

England have been cautiously optimistic about returning to India ever since the attacks, but remain insistent that they will only make their decision on the security advice they are given. Yet with only five days to go until the first Test, Moores admitted that certain players were “in different places” - in other words, uncertain or undecided - and those included Flintoff and Harmison, two of his key weapons. “I’m fairly confident everybody will go if the security report is okay,” Moores told PA at a press conference this afternoon. “But it is a difficult situation and everybody sees things differently. Individuals have different views. The worry is that if somebody makes their choice one way or the other they get marginalised for it.

“Players are in different places. There are players I’ve spoken to more than others. Some make a decision quite quickly. For others it takes a bit longer. Fred has had issues and it’s fair to say Steve Harmison has as well. The important message from me is that we respect people and allow them to have their views. That’s okay - they are human beings,” Moores said. “What I do know about those two guys is that they are massively proud to play for their country and both have missed out on Test match cricket and are both desperate to play again.”

Worryingly for England, with only five days to go until the Chennai Test, their practice session today was hampered by rain in a city more used to sandstorms than showers. Should Flintoff, Harmison or any other player make himself unavailable, England will dip into the Performance Programme squad whose numbers swell the party to 38 (24 players).

Flintoff, inevitably, remains England’s key player but Moores refuses to place any pressure on him or other players whose minds are not yet made up. “The more you get to know Freddie you understand that he is a highly articulate man, he’s been round the block and knows international sport and knows what he wants. That’s his strength as a person,” Moores said. “In this instance, he quite rightly wants to take all the information in and make his call. If he thinks it’s right he will go and represent his country.

“If he thinks he can’t, that will be a tough decision for him, and it will be his decision. You have to want to go. If you force people to go that can have an equally damaging effect. They have to go for the right reasons. I want us to go proud as an England team and put on an entertaining spectacle for the whole of cricket - English fans, Indian fans - and put security to the back of the mind and get on with the game.”

Source:Cricket News

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