England should continue India tour, say former English cricketers (Lead)

November 28th, 2008 - 8:44 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 28 (IANS) While their players are reluctant to return for the Test series in the aftermath of Mumbai attacks, English media and former cricketers strongly believe that they should play in India and not allow the terrorists to succeeed in spreading fear.In a show of unprecedented solidarity with India, the England media and former players said that the tour should go ahead as a mark of respect to the dead and wounded in the Mumbai terror strikes.

“Terrorism is something that we as a world need to stand up against and fight. It is sadly something we’ve got to live with and we have done so in places like England and India for many years,” legendary all-rounder Ian Botham said in his column in the Mirror.

“As far as England’s cricket tour goes, they have to take advice from the people around them but I think it would be a crying shame if they are forced to call things off at the hands of terrorists,” he added.

Former captain Mike Atherton, too, said that given the assurances of safety, England players should play the two Tests starting Dec 11.

“We don’t succumb to it in England and I do believe that if the team have the assurances of safety and security then why shouldn’t they play?” he said.

“It is a difficult time for the England squad and they will feel uneasy about what has happened. I can understand why they will head home and take stock for a few days, but the news that they are planning on returning to play the Tests is encouraging.”

Eminent columnist and former England cricketer Mike Selvey said that rather than flying back home, England cricketers should go and spend some time in Dubai or Singapore and then travel back to India for the Test series, the Guardian reports.

“Five days in Colombo would surely have sufficed, or Dubai or Singapore. Once the players are home, it will take massive willpower to drag them on to a plane to India once more. If the series does take place, it demonstrates solidarity with the Indian people, who, if they see it this way, one hopes would respond by turning up to the games,” Selvey said in his column in The Guardian.

Cricket writer Patrick Kidd of The Times also felt that tour must continue fairly and promptly though it is understandable for the players to come back home in such a hostile situation.

“I feel that the tour must continue fairly promptly. England owe it to India and their fans to demonstrate that life must go on after such senseless carnage. The cliche about not letting the terrorists win can sound trite, but it is a valid one,” Kidd wrote.

“Even though reports suggested that the terrorists were seeking British and Americans, the bulk of those who died or were wounded were Indians. England should stay and compete as a mark of respect to them,” he added.

England have already cut short the seven-match ODI series and are scheduled to fly back home Saturday morning.

“I can think of several parallels with this incident. In 1984, riots spread across India after the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Thousands were killed, particularly Sikhs. England wanted to go home, especially after the murder of the British Deputy High Commissioner, with whom they had dined, but it was cricket that brought the restoration of peace,” Kidd said.

The second Test match between India and England scheduled Dec 19-23 in Mumbai has been shifted to Chennai after terror strikes in the city.

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