England Cricket Team,Offered New Tour Schedule

December 1, 2008

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England have been offered a revised schedule for their tour of India but will await a security report before making any decision.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has said players will not be forced to go following the terror attacks in Mumbai.

Indian cricket bosses say the ECB has agreed to the Ahmedabad and Mumbai Tests switching to Chennai and Mohali, the first starting on 11 December.

A planned three-day warm-up match has been cancelled.

The England squad returned to the UK on Friday after the last two one-day matches in India were cancelled.

“The players have returned home, they’ll have spoken to their families and young children and it’s a tremendous pull on the heart-strings,” said Gooch.

“Cricket teams around the world have [previously] been caught up in terrorist situations but have never been a target.

“But it’s been stated in this case that British and American passport holders were a target, so you’d have to think, sadly, that an England team and their supporters would be targets.

“If one individual decides they cannot go then others will probably follow.”

Spinner Graeme Swann, battling to secure a place in the side, admitted he had a “tricky” decision to make, despite not being 100% happy to return.

Ranuka Shetty, chief operating officer for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), told the BBC: “In principle [the England team] do feel that the tour has to go on but I think a clear picture will emerge by [Monday] evening or tomorrow morning as to how we will proceed in this matter.

“I think a team which visits and then took a break and went back – when it comes back I think it sends a great deal of positive signal to the world.”

Last week’s terror attacks in Mumbai saw at least 172 people killed.

With the last two one-dayers between India and England already cancelled, the two-Test series depends on the security report’s outcome.

It is understood that travel will be limited as much as possible, with England flying directly to the venue of the first Test.

ECB managing director Hugh Morris could not confirm reports of Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison refusing to travel.

“I’ve not had confirmation from either Andy or Steve,” Morris told BBC 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme on Sunday.

“What we are doing is pulling information together over the next 24 to 48 hours and we will be putting that to the players and their representatives.”

Morris said the team would only go back to India if their safety could be guaranteed, but it remained unclear as to which players a returning England team would.

He said England could send a weakened squad if regular first-teamers declined to go, conceding: “Clearly we would have to potentially face that issue.”

“But until that report comes back, I’m not keen at the minute.”

Meanwhile, Lalit Modi, vice-president of the Indian cricket board (BCCI), expects England to return – if safety assurances are met.

“Player safety and fans safety is paramount for us,” Modi said.

“But on the other hand we must make sure events like this don’t give the opportunity to terrorists around the world to get away with this. We need to carry on.

“I’m sure families will want to influence players and rightfully so, but they need to make their own decision.

“I really do believe it will happen though. The ECB, the security teams and governments are all checking it out and I’m sure it will be all right.”

He also said the BCCI would not press the ECB for compensation should the series be shelved.

International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat urged the series to go ahead if it was safe to do so.

“If safety and security allow then I would urge the England Test tour of India to go ahead,” he said, “and if it does so, then representatives of the ICC will be there to show solidarity with the competing teams.”

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