8 Dec : Overcoming the terror scare, the England cricket team returned to Chennai on Monday night in two batches to resume their Indian tour which was interrupted by the Mumbai carnage.
The full-strength 16-member team led by Kevin Pietersen landed at Chennai from the UAE, the first batch reached Chennai from Abu Dhabi followed by another from neighbouring Dubai within 20 minutes of each other. The contingent consists of 28 people, including support staff.
The team, which had left India on 28th November after abandoning the last two of the seven-match ODI series in the wake of the terror attacks, will play the first Test in Chennai Thursday at the M A Chidambaram stadium which replaced Mumbai as the venue.
The second Test is scheduled to be held at Mohali from 19th December although England has to formally confirm it.Tight security arrangements had been made at the airport for the arrival of the team which got the final go-ahead to tour India late on Sunday night following the security clearance from the England and Wales Cricket Board’s security advisor Reg Dickason.
Immediately upon arrival, the team was taken out of the airport from a separate gate and driven straight to the hotel where fool-proof security cover had been provided.The English players are scheduled to have a practice session on Tuesday and will get just two days to get acclimatised to the conditions before the first Test gets underway.
The England players were training in Abu Dhabi pending the security clearance.Dickason’s report had found India to be safe, paving the decks for the resumption of cricketing activities.The players were given a detailed feedback on the security arrangements that would be put in place for the series.
After nearly two hours of discussions at the team hotel in Abu Dhabi involving players, ECB’s managing director Hugh Morris and Professional Cricketers Association (EPCA) Chief Executive Sean Morris and Dickason, it was announced that the Test series would go ahead as per schedule.
In a bid to salvage the tour, the BCCI had come out with a revised itinerary choosing Chennai and Mohali as the new venues instead of Ahmedabad and terror-hit Mumbai.
The three-day warm-up match against Board President’s XI in Vadodara was also cancelled.
Full strength England will play Tests in India: ECB
A full strength England cricket team will return to India on Monday to play Tests after getting the final go-ahead from their security experts, ending days of speculation on the fate of the series, which was in doubt following the terror attacks in Mumbai.
England and Wales Cricket Board’s security adviser Reg Dickason, in his much-awaited report, declared India safe for the players, on late Sunday night paving the decks for the resumption of cricketing activities which had been interrupted due to Mumbai attacks.
The Kevin Pietersen-led team will fly out to Chennai in two batches ending speculation that senior players Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison were uncertain to tour India.
The England players, who were camping here to prepare for the series, were given a detailed feedback on the security arrangements that would be put in place for the series,scheduled to begin in Chennai from 11th December.
The fate of Mohali as the venue for second Test will, however, be decided after Dickason inspects the arrangements there on Monday.After nearly two hours of discussions at the team hotel here involving players, ECB’s managing director Hugh Morris and Professional Cricketers Association (EPCA) Chief Executive
Sean Morris and Dickason, it was announced that the Test series would go ahead.The players were then given some time to make up their minds on whether to travel to India.
"England will resume their tour of India and take a full-strength squad. The players were briefed on the latest security update today before confirming they would return to India and complete the tour which was halted following the terror attacks in Mumbai," said a statement issued by the ECB on late Sunday night.
"It’s a brave and courageous decision that will be respected around the world," Hugh Morris said."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 confirm that the England team will be travelling to Chennai in the next 24 hours to play in the first Test match against India.
"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," Morris said.
Earlier, Dickason, Hugh and Sean Morris arrived in Abu Dhabi from Chennai and briefed the players at team hotel.Dickason has already inspected the stadium and hotel in Chennai, the venue of the first Test, and had detailed discussions on the security arrangements with BCCI and police officials.