BCCI-ECB battle hots up over Test series

Published: Sunday, November 30, 2008, 10:56 [IST]
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London: It will be a battle of power as not the players but their respective Boards - ECB and BCCI - will be directly against each other this time and the Indian board would certainly press its English counterparts to return for the Test series even though the visitors left their tour mid-way due to the terror strikes in Mumbai.

The BCCI has already shifted the venue of the second Test from Mumbai to Chennai although the first Test would be played in Ahmedabad as scheduled.

The BCCI sounded confident that the English team would be back to play the Test series after calling off their remaining two ODIs due.

The majority of England's squad will arrive at Heathrow airpot this evening after flying yesterday from Bhubaneshwar to Bangalore to join the High Performance squad.

Many England players have been adamant that they will not return, although it remains to be seen if those feelings will soften.

''We need to make sure the security's right - but if it's not safe, then we won't be coming back,'' England captain Kevin Pietersen said.

''Players are their own people, I'll never force anyone to do anything or tell them to do anything against their will.

On the field I may ask people to do things in a certain way but people run their own lives. We'll have to see how the security is.

''The television coverage here has been pretty graphic. I've heard back home it's not been like that but out here you see pools of blood, you see everything that has been going on. We've woken up this morning and seen more pictures of people jumping out of helicopters where we were two weeks ago. It's really made the guys aware and shocked them.

Second Test switched to Chennai

''I bet all the guys lost a whole battery on their mobiles yesterday with calls from friends and relatives and kids wanting to know where daddy is. We'll make a decision on it over the next 48 to 72 hours,'' said Pietersen who led England to an embarassing 0-5 loss against India in the ODI series.

The ECB, which anticipates that some players would pull out of the tour, is likely to look on these sympathetically, but the impression is that an England team will tour India even if severely weakened.

But England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief Ian Charter MacLaurin said it was absolutely the right decision for his team to come home under the prevailing conditions.

''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 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.

Cancellation of India tour a 'crying shame'

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has insisted that it has ''no role to play in the current situation'', although any disagreement between the ECB and the Indian board over safety would bring a security assessment that the ICC would regard as binding and could conceivably bring large financial penalties if the ECB was unable to accept its findings.

However, many feel that England should return to India to play the Tests else the game could suffer. Former England captain Bob Willis said unless the team returned, there was a risk that other countries may refuse to come to England in future. ''If the country is deemed safe before the first Test in Ahmedabad on December 11 and the second in Chennai, they should go and play. Otherwise no one will come to England - teams will say we are as much a terrorist target as any country. I hope that within a fortnight, things will be settled down,'' Willis was quoted as saying by the London Times.

''The England players stayed on in 1984-85 when Mrs Gandhi and Percy Norris, the deputy British High Commissioner, were assassinated, but I can understand the reluctance of any cricketer to go into areas where there have been terrorist attacks. As Westerners are being targeted, it is sensible for the team to leave,'' he added.

Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) chief executive Sean Morris believes that England players can not risk their lives without a go ahead signal from the security advisors.

Pietersen 'fear' to return India

''In the cold light of day and determining is it safe to return or not?" Morris said that the players would accept that advice as long as the security situation does not deteriorate further,'' Morris said..

Another former captain David Gower, who led England on the 1984-85 tour of India, recalled that during that tour also his team had thought of coming back after Percy Norris was killed.

He, however, believes that it will be tough for the English players to get the terror attacks out out of their minds but was sure that India would provide them with the best of securities.

''We talked about coming home when Percy Norris was killed - we had had drinks with him only the night before. But we knew security would be tight enough. I would almost suggest that if they went back to Bombay, they would be fine. India will provide full security, even though they will find it hard to get this out of their minds,'' Gower said Meanwhile, BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi insisted yesterday that the Twenty20 Champions League was not postponed because of security fears but for logistical reasons.

''All eight teams tried to implore us to continue with the Champions League and just change Mumbai. Logistically, we could not replace a venue in 48 hours. We proposed the postponement,'' he claimed.


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