The announcement over whether England's cricketers will resume their troubled tour to India is expected this evening. The decision will be taken after Hugh Morris, managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, and Sean Morris, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, return to Abu Dhabi with the latest security information from Chennai, where the first Test is due to start on Thursday Dec 11.
England officials will present their findings to Kevin Pietersen's men and the players will then be given time to consider their own positions on whether to resume the tour. The squad were due to play a practice match today but instead the squad had a net session at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in the morning and were expected to return after lunch. England coach Peter Moores is hopeful that the full side will fly to Chennai tomorrow if the green light is given, but he concedes not everyone may commit and he hopes all players' decisions are respected.
England will already have to replace the injured Ryan Sidebottom in the 15-man party and have further deputies at hand due to the presence of 10 members of the performance squad. "I'm fairly confident everybody will go if the security report is okay," said Moores. "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.
"It won't be held against anyone if they don't go. Everybody will have opinions about those decisions, but we have to show respect. "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." Moores admitted both Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison have reservations over the potential trip. He added: "Fred [Flintoff] 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. "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." Flintoff - who received a card and a round of applause from team-mates for his 31st birthday during yesterday's practice - allayed doubts about his fitness following a niggle to his perennially troublesome left ankle with a lengthy bowl.
England's preparations had been hampered further when rain thwarted a training session yesterday morning but the squad was able to come through a three-hour session in the afternoon. Moores, who tried to make light of the disruption to preparation by joking England might go to Mauritius ahead of the Ashes if they overcome the odds to win this forthcoming series, is intent on finishing the seven-week trip.
"Yes I do want to go to India," he said. "Personally I want us to go and play, but we have to take into account the security advice. "From what I know so far I am personally happy and think it is right to go and play." Uncertainty has surrounded the tour since the Mumbai attacks and the ECB are still unsure whether the second Test will be played in Mohali as was previously announced. Morris is scheduled to visit the northern Indian city before the start of the first Test but Bangalore and Delhi have been mooted as possible alternatives - they would also provide direct flights home to guarantee the players are back for Christmas. Dilwar Mani, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Club, has said he would be happy to stage the Test series at the stadium where England have been practising if it is deemed unsafe for them to return to the sub-continent.
"It is an extraordinary situation because of what has happened," Moores added. "Our guys who are picked have to decide whether India, full stop, is safe. "The question will be, 'do you think India is a safe place to go and play cricket with the measures we have put in place'?" Stuart Broad will meet his colleagues in Chennai tomorrow should the tour officially restart - having spent the last few days in the UK recuperating from a small hamstring tear. *PA