Full England squad to play India Tests


Cricket: England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has hinted team unity was behind the decision to resume the tour of India.

Flintoff, 31, was one of those with reservations about a return to play the two-Test series when the final security briefing began at England's Emirate base last night.

But the full-strength squad travels on to Chennai today ahead of the first Test which begins on Thursday, and they will be protected by unprecedented levels of security.

Sean Morris, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, praised the seasoned players' attitude in questioning whether to travel.

Flintoff said: "It's been a difficult last three days.

"Throughout, everyone has voiced their opinion, whether they be junior or senior players. Everyone has decided to go, so to say it was just about the senior players would be wrong. We have decided to go as a team."

England have spent three days at a Sheikh Zayed Stadium training camp in preparation for a two-Test series.

"When we have been practising out on the field, batting and bowling, the intensity has been fine," Flintoff said.

"But when people are on their own, and with time to think, the mood has been different."

Personal doubts about the ethics of returning to the subcontinent so soon after the Mumbai terror attacks, and reservations over trying to concentrate on cricket while surrounded by armed guards, will now have to be put aside.

There can be no tougher assignment in world cricket on present form than facing India on their own soil.

"If you win anything in India I think you are doing well," Flintoff added. "Particularly with the way they played in the one-dayers, and the way they played against Australia.

"We have now got two Test matches to show what we can do."