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It's official: Full strength England team will return India

Published: Monday, December 8, 2008, 12:22 [IST]
 
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ECBLondon: England will resume their tour of India - and take a full-strength squad, the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Sunday night.

Star players such as Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison are thought to have held reservations about returning but have indicated their willingness to take part in the two Tests.

After their return from Chennai, ECB managing director Hugh Morris and Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) chief executive Sean Morris briefed the players who will fly out to India today from their Abu Dhabi base.

England, who were 0-5 down in the seven-match ODI series, cut short the limited overs' series and flew back to home after the Mumbai killings.

ECB security advisor Reg Dickason also arrived in Abu Dhabi yesterday from India to deliver his assessment to the players.

After an hour-and-a-half of discussions involving players, officials and Dickason, it was eventually confirmed that the Test series will go ahead.

''It's obviously been a very emotional 10 days or so since the atrocities in Mumbai,'' Hugh Morris said yesterday.

''We've had a lot of discussions with the players following a number of security information audits we"ve had from the very highest levels of government and our own security team.

''Following the meeting we have had this evening, we can confirm that the England team will be travelling to Chennai in the next 24 hours to play in the first Test match against India.

''All players, quite rightly, wanted to have the most up-to-date information available.

''They will be remembered by aficionados for their Test records, their performances on the field, how they bat and how they bowl.

''Every now and again there is an opportunity that arises which transcends cricket and goes beyond the boundary.

''The players have made a very brave and courageous decision and that will be hugely respected all around the world.

''It has been a very difficult situation, a very emotional, sensitive time for everybody and it has been hard for the players to come to this decision, but they all have, and we are looking forward to the challenge of playing India,'' Hugh said.

The second Test is scheduled to take place in Mohali from December 19-23 after England's request to change both the venues for the two Tests.

However, doubts still remain over whether Mohali will stage the second Test, with Bangalore and Delhi possible alternative locations.

PCA chief Sean Morris confirmed that it was still under consideration whether Mohali will stage the second Test or not and investigations will continue on this regard.

''We have (undergone) a very thorough process in a short period of time and that resulted in us spending the last two-and-a-half days in Chennai, ticking all the boxes,'' Sean told Sky Sports.

''It's purely a timeframe thing. We felt it was unreasonable to come back to the players and say anything about Mohali until we'd been there ourselves.

England has also included paceman Amjad Khan as a replacement for the injured left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom, while 20-year-old leg-spinner Adil Rashid will also travel with the squad.

England squad: Kevin Pietersen (capt), Tim Ambrose (wkt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison, Amjad Khan, Monty Panesar, Matt Prior (wkt), Owais Shah, Andrew Strauss, Graeme Swann, Adil Rashid.

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