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England throws Tests in doubt
By Mitch Phillips
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 29 - 11 - 2008

England players will be allowed to make their own decision on whether to return to India for a two-Test series next month after the militant attacks in Mumbai, captain Kevin Pietersen said on Friday.
England cut short their one-day series to fly home but are scheduled to return in December for Tests.
“We will make every effort to come back and play in the Tests but at the end of the day if it's not safe we won't be coming back,” Pietersen told BBC radio.
“I'll never force anybody to do anything. A man is a man and he can make his own decisions for himself.
“It's the right decision right now to get the boys out of here, to get them to their families, even if it's only going to be for a couple of days.
“It has been really, really hard. It's something that we weren't expecting and when unexpected things happen you deal with them in certain ways.”
Pietersen said postponing the series until after Christmas were not practical and that plans were in place to set up a new practice match in place of the scheduled three-day game in Baroda from Dec. 5.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan said he and the rest of the performance squad would have been in Mumbai, and possibly in one of the hotels targeted by gunmen, if they had not been moved to Bangalore.
“It was only at the last minute it was switched, I don't know why,” Vaughan wrote in his Daily Telegraph column.
“We could have been there in one of those hotels when they were attacked.
“All our Test kit is in the Taj Mahal Hotel where one of the sieges has been going on. It was deposited there after England's two practice games there. That's how close the danger is.
“I can imagine the (one-day) England squad must have been going through some really tough meetings. Some players will have wanted to go home permanently, some will have wanted to stay.”
Meanwhile, the team left Bhubaneswar for Bangalore on Friday. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has also asked its second-string performance squad, which was in Bangalore, to return home following terror attacks in Mumbai. The two squads will board the same flight to London Saturday.
The last two limited-over internationals of the seven-match series were canceled as English players wanted to return home, but India's cricket authorities are hopeful of hosting next month's two Test matches against England. “Both the ECB and the Board of Control for Cricket in India have made assurances that the two Test matches will go ahead,” the ECB said in a statement Thursday.
The BCCI shifted the second Test from Mumbai to Chennai. The first Test will be played as scheduled in Ahmedabad from Dec. 11-15, while Chennai will host the second Test from Dec. 19-23. The series will be preceded by a three-day practice match in Vadodara from Dec. 5-7, the statement from BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan added.
The statement did not say whether England had accepted the revised itinerary.
ECB official Hugh Morris, who held talks with Indian officials until late Thursday, had said earlier he expected the Test series to go ahead.
“The players are keen to play international cricket,” Morris said.
“The Test matches are in place as it stands and at the moment our plan is to come back. If our security report says it is safe and secure to do so, that is what we will do.”
India is determined to put the sport back on track. BCCI vice president Lalit Modi, said he was unfazed by the cancellation of the England one-dayers and the multi-million dollar Champions League.
“In the circumstances it was the right thing to do but there is no doubt cricket will start again soon,” Modi said.
Modi insisted that the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League from Dec. 3-10 had been postponed due to logistical problems, rather than security fears.
Mumbai was due to host three of the 15 games in the six-million dollar tournament featuring leading Twenty20 teams from Australia, South Africa, India, England and Pakistan.
“All the teams wanted the Champions League to go ahead and only wanted Mumbai removed as a venue,” Modi said.
“But it was not logistically possible to change a venue at such short notice so we proposed it be postponed.
“But I can assure you it will be held soon, and in India.”
The situation in India will be keenly followed by cricketers around the world who have signed lucrative contracts to play in the second season of the Twenty20 Indian Premier League next April.
The International Cricket Council will be equally concerned as India contributes an estimated 70 percent of the sport's revenues because of its vast cricket-mad television audiences.


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