England team to play Tests at proposed venues

Published: Friday, November 25, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:After days of sulking, England apparently agreed to play at the venues suggested by the Indian Cricket Board for the three Test matches early next year.

However, England would not accept the centres recommended for the two practice games ahead of the series, a top England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) offical said.

"We have decided to play the Tests on centres recommended by BCCI but the venues for the two practice matches are not acceptable to us and the team. We would press the BCCI to change them," the official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

The BCCI has slotted the two practice matches at Jamshedpur (February 25-27) and at Agartala (March 2-4) while the Tests have been scheduled at Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Mumbai.

"The venues have been discussed in detail with the Players Association and with the players and we have unanimously decided that Jamshedpur and Agartala are not acceptable," he said.

"We want the BCCI to move the warm-up games from those centres and slot them in cities where there are better hotels and less travel hazards," the official said after his meeting with Michael Vaughan's men in Faisalabad.

Asked if England would prefer playing the warm-up games in Pakistan instead of Jamshedpur and Agartala, the official said it was premature to comment on that.

"We would not like to put Pakistan in an awkward situation. But we have our options open and would prefer to play practice games in India but on better venues and not in smaller cities like Jamshedpur or Agartala."

The ECB official also said that it was wrong to suggest that the itinerary had been finalised.

"The impression being given that the itinerary has been finalised is wrong. It's still in a discussion stage.

"But we want to finalise it sooner than later because with the team comes our supporters and media and we would like to cater to their requests. You have to understand that India is a big country and the Barmy Army and Media would like to finalise their tour plans as early as possible."

He said England were keen to get over the itinerary issue so that they could concentrate on their home series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

"Besides, the ECB also wants to get over with this so that we can move forward and start preparing for the home season which is tough and long as we are hosting Sri Lanka and Pakistan for seven Tests," he said.

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