England cricketers shouldn’t go back to India: Former ECB chief

November 29th, 2008 - 7:17 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 29 (IANS) Former England cricket chief Ian Charter MacLaurin feels that security dangers are too obvious for the England team to return to India for next month’s two-Test series. “It was absolutely the right decision for them to come home. The England cricket team are very high-profile individuals. If these fanatics are going to target people then the England players could be a very big target for them,” MacLaurin, a former chairman of England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), was quoted as saying by the The Daily Telegraph.

“My own view is that I would be very, very surprised if the security people will give them the OK to go back. For myself, I don’t think they should go back. I think it is sad for cricket, but the safety of our players is absolutely paramount. I am sure that the ECB will take the same view,” he added.

MacLaurin was ECB chairman on England’s last-but-one tour of India, which was thrown into doubt by the World Trade Centre disaster of 2001. During that tour, the security advice said that the trip was safe, but players were allowed to make their own decisions and Robert Croft and Andrew Caddick withdrew.

The daily also reported that present ECB chairman Giles Clarke would like to see the Test series go ahead and is well aware of how sensitive this situation is.

Even if the Foreign Office recommends English travellers against travelling to India next week, the Board of Cricket Control for India (BCCI) could call in the International Cricket Council (ICC) to perform an independent security assessment, which would then be binding on both boards.

“I can’t see how the Indians can make a fuss if the security assessment says there is a risk. And neither can I see how - after the atrocities we have seen - any security firm could put its hand on its heart and say there is no risk. No, I would be hugely surprised if England go back out to India,” MacLaurin said.

MacLaurin’s views were also also reiterated Vikram Solanki, the Worcestershire captain, who was born in India and has played both for Rajasthan’s state team and Mumbai Champs in the Indian Cricket League.

“There have been terror attacks on England in the past, and cricket matches have still been played soon afterwards. That begs the question of whether a precedent has been set. I am sure the players and the ECB will take good advice from the Foreign Office as to how safe the players will be,” Solanki said.

“Over the next week there will be plenty of arguments suggesting they do go back and plenty suggesting that they don’t. But the fact is that there has been a devastating attack on the commercial capital of India, and a lot of lives have been lost. That puts things into perspective when you are talking about a couple of cricket matches,” he said.

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