India return up to individual England players

 

Cricket: England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Hugh Morris today insisted England will be going back to India if it is deemed safe to do so - but admitted it may not be a first-choice side.

The ECB and captain Kevin Pietersen have already confirmed no player will be forced to return to the country following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai this week.

The squad arrived back in London on Saturday after the final two one-day internationals were cancelled, but they are due to play a two-Test series beginning on December 11th in Ahmedabad, with the second match having been moved from Mumbai to Chennai.

The ECB are taking security advice and expect a decision to be made about the future of the tour within the next 48 hours.

If it is deemed safe, it will then be left to the players to decide whether they will take part.

Morris told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: "At the moment, nothing has been confirmed with any of the players.

"We are committed, as it stands at the moment, to playing in those two Test matches, subject to safety and security advice.

"If the security advice suggests it is a safe environment, we will be playing two Test matches.

"The support we've had in India has been incredible. Cricket is a galvanising force in that country, and that's got to be taken into account as well."

Asked about the possibility of top players refusing to go back, Morris added: "Clearly we would have to potentially face that issue."

Board of Control for Cricket in India vice-president Lalit Modi expects England to return - but insisted the board will not not press for compensation if they decide to stay at home.

Modi also called on the sides to show cricket can move forward following the deadly events, and used the comparison with the attacks in London in 2005, which came two weeks before the start of that year's Ashes.

"We can't allow events around the world to deter us, to go out and be afraid to play," he said.

"I really do believe it (the tour) will happen. It's just we need to take it to another city, which we have agreed to do so. I'm sure it'll be all right.

"It's not the BCCI against the ECB and the players, that doesn't achieve anything. In 2005, the bomb blasts in the UK, two weeks later the Ashes series began.

"Everybody needs to be pragmatic. If the security is possible and it is there then we should continue.

"It's not about compensation. I've heard numbers, but it's got nothing to do with monetary issues. We would never pressurise anybody and that's not the way we operate.

"Compensation is the last thing we are looking at."

Bowler Steve Harmison described the decision each player will have to make about whether to return as "the most important of their lives" but insisted now was not the time to make rash judgements.

Describing the scenes they witnessed on Indian TV, he told the Mail on Sunday: "The carnage is unimaginable, like a horror movie. I'm sorry, but whatever is being asked of us in the next few days, at the moment, the idea of being asked to go back out there is the last thing on my mind.

"This is beyond cricket. This is beyond anything. It's all very well for people back home to say we should carry on with the tour, but none of what has happened has anything to do with cricket.

"How anyone can say that we should be carrying on with the tour in the circumstances is beyond me. I can't say now that I will definitely not come back or that I definitely will.

"If the board say they want us to go back the players have about 72 hours to come to the most important decision of their lives. All I hope is that nobody thinks we will take it lightly."

Former captain Alec Stewart believes the ECB will come to the right decision and insisted players should not be penalised if they decide to stay at home.

He told the Sunday Mirror: "The ECB has a duty to its players and the England supporters. There is no way it will allow the team to return to India if their safety is in any doubt.

"If the tour was to go ahead and individual players did not want to return, the decision should not be held against them in the future."