England are to fly to Abu Dhabi before travelling to India to resume the tour they aborted after last week's attacks in Mumbai.
England to resume aborted tour of India
LONDON // England are to fly to Abu Dhabi today before travelling to India to resume the tour they aborted after last week's militant attacks in Mumbai. "While we have sought to reassure players their safety is paramount we have not pressurised any player into making the trip against their will," Hugh Morris, managing director of England Cricket, said in an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statement on Wednesday. The touring squad returned home early from their one-day series in India and the ECB has spent 72 hours evaluating security issues before deciding whether the players should return for two Test matches. The senior squad, along with nine members of the England Performance Squad, will practice in Abu Dhabi before travelling on to India next week subject to the implementation of security recommendations. The first Test in Chennai is due to start on Dec 11, having been switched from Ahmedabad, with the second in Mohali instead of the original venue in Mumbai. Reg Dickason, the ECB's security manager, has been meeting police and cricket authorities in Chennai. "Based on the discussions held and the clarifications given, BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) expects no problem with the first Test being held in Chennai," the BCCI secretary N Srinivasan said in a statement. The attacks in Mumbai left 183 people dead. Many of the casualties were at the Taj Mahal Hotel where the England team had stayed earlier during the one-day series that was curtailed with two matches to play and India leading 5-0. Batsman Andrew Strauss said England had faith in the ECB to make sure it was safe to return. "To begin with there was a lot of shock, a lot of emotion," he told BBC radio. "When something like that happens cricket doesn't seem like such a big priority. "Having had a few days to let things settle down you can look at things a bit more logically and objectively and it seems like the right thing to do (to go back), both for the game of cricket and the England team." The only member of the 15-man party not returning will be seam bowler Ryan Sidebottom, who has a side injury. Paceman Stuart Broad will remain in England for treatment on a hamstring problem but is expected to travel in time for the second Test. While the players practice in Abu Dhabi, Hugh Morris and Sean Morris, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers Association (PCA), will join Dickason in Chennai before reporting back to the squad on the security situation. "The only consideration in all our discussions has been the safety and security of the team and support staff," Hugh Morris said. "We have been delighted by the input of the PCA and also the willingness of the BCCI to act upon our recommendations regarding security."