England tour of India - News - Cricket: England tour still on despite Bombay violence

Published: Monday, October 29, 2001, 0:00 [IST]
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London: A senior England cricket official said on Sunday that that there was no question of calling off the India tour despite the death of nine people during demonstrations in Malegaon, Maharashtra.John Carr, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) director of cricket operations, said he had spoken to the British High Commissioner in Delhi, Sir Rob Young, on Saturday and received reassurances that the security situation had not worsened as far as the England team was concerned."Sir Rob Young kindly rang me yesterday before news of the disturbances became public," explained Carr."It was obviously a serious incident, but from what I've been told it was a demonstration which got totally out of hand and they see it as an isolated incident."We will continue to monitor events and take the experts advice on this situation and there is no reason to change our view on the tour unless the situation changes."However, Richard Bevan, the Professional Cricketers Association spokesman for the England players, admitted his organisation's "grave concerns" following reports of the trouble that surrounded an anti-American protest rally."If there are serious riots and incidents in India, there will be concern to all parties."To all concerned it is worrying when events escalate but we will be liaising with the ECB and they are keeping us informed about events," said Bevan.Carr is due to meet representatives of the Indian Home Ministry, who are responsible for security, in London later this week, as he tries to convince the whole of England's 16 man squad that it is safe to tour.Last Friday, they were all supposed to say whether they were available but five players Marcus Trescothick, Craig White, Ashley Giles, Robert Croft and Andrew Caddick asked for more time to consider their decision.Initially the ECB seemed to suggest that the doubters had until Monday to make their minds up, but on Sunday ECB chief executive Tim Lamb gave them a little extra leeway."I would hope that, early next week, everybody will have confirmed their position," Lamb told BBC Radio Five Live on Sunday.The ECB hope that most of the doubters will give them a definitive decision Monday. But the situation is complicated by the fact that White and Giles are not expected to announce their intentions until they have undergone fitness tests on November 7 - just six days before England are scheduled to depart for India.Meanwhile, former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan joined the debate on Sunday, saying he was puzzled over the players' reservations."Why should it not be safe?" he said. "There is no war in India. I fail to understand what the problem is."The chances of anything happening in India are the same as something happening in England next summer, virtually nothing."So I can't believe the stuff I am reading that cricketers don't want to go. Why would anyone be threatened in India?"Perhaps people looking at TV and the papers can be spooked out. But the reality is different. I don't even feel worried in Pakistan. So why should anyone be worried in India," he said.There has been a wide divergence of views within the England tour party about the potential hazards of touring in India.On Saturday, batsman Mark Ramprakash said, "There's probably more danger going to Heathrow or using the tube than visiting Bangalore and Bombay."No one can give us a 100 per cent guarantee about safety but I don't think life should grind to a halt because of that."However, Yorkshire all-rounder White told the Sunday Mirror. "I've said before that the England cricket team sitting in a coach would be a massive target for any would-be suicide bomber and I haven't changed my view over the last few days."

Copyright AFP 2001

Eng tour hanging by thread: British media

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