England’s tour to India will be cleared Sunday (Lead)December 4th, 2008 - 9:08 pm ICT by IANS
London, Dec 4 (IANS) England captain Kevin Pietersen said a final decision on returning to India will be taken Sunday even as high security alert in Indian airports due to possible air-borne attack cast fresh doubts on the tour.The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said it was monitoring the developments in India and awaiting the security report of Reg Dickason, who is in India to assess the safety of the two Test venues - Chennai and Mohali.
“It is obviously concerning,” said Hugh Morris, the managing director of the ECB.
“We need to find out the information surrounding that. I have spoken to our security team in Chennai already this morning.”
“They are finding out the details around the alerts and when they get the information they will feed the information back to me and then I will provide that information to the board,” Morris said.
Pietersen said the team will fly to Abu Dhabi Thursday and await for security clearance for the series starting Dec 11 in Chennai.
“We are buying ourselves more time in Abu Dhabi. It is great that the players who went to India are willing to go back,” Pietersen said.
“But, if the security is right, we will go as a collective unit. We are waiting on a security report from Hugh (Morris), Sean (Morris) and Reg (Dickason),” he said.
“We are very focused to play some red-ball cricket. We will assess the situation Sunday but we are very confident of playing a Test match and we are focused on that,” Pietersen said.
“I think it is important that we go back to India and rub shoulder to shoulder with the Indian people in their time of of need. We are happy to show our support.”
Dickason visited Chennai Tuesday where he met top Indian security officials and Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary (BCCI) N. Srinivisan.
He is believed to have handed out a security blueprint according to which elite Indian commndos should provide round-the-clock protection to the squad and also keep ready an evacuation plan in case of emergency.
The interim report on player safety is understood to contain reservations about the ability of the Indian authorities to implement the demands laid down by the ECB, reports The Times, London.
But fresh trouble for the tour erupted after Indian airports, including Chennai, were given unprecedented security cover following the Indian Air Force chief’s admission that authorities had received warning of a possible air-strike.
With security checks continuing in India, the squad will be joined by nine members of the England Performance programme, who are on standby if any of the first-choice players opt out of the onward journey to Chennai.
In an heartening turn of events, it is the original England squad which would board the plane Thursday denying suggestions that a number of leading players have decided not to travel.