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Cricket:England’s Tour of India Cancelled after Mumbai Blasts

The England team are currently in India, where on Thursday they went 5-0 down in a seven-match one-day series after losing by six wickets in Cuttack.

They were due to return to Mumbai, where their tour began three weeks ago, on December 16 ahead of the second and final Test starting three days later.

England had been scheduled to stay at the Taj Mahal Palace, one of two luxury hotels attacked by bands of gunmen, reportedly looking for foreign targets.

The second of the two Tests was scheduled to be played in Mumbai from December 16 and the visiting team was to stay at the Hotel Taj which was also targeted by terrorists.

Team spokesman Andrew Walpole said the squad would take advice from Britain’’s Foreign Office before deciding whether to proceed with the remainder of the tour. We will be guided by the Foreign Office and will await developments, quoted Walpole as saying.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia has cancelled plans for Western Australia and Victoria to travel to India for next week’’s Champions Twenty20 League because of the deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

“It is an evolving situation and we are taking security advice from a number of different sources, as we always do,” he said. “We are hoping to take it forward in the very near future and have a further statement later this evening.

“We asked BCCI to consider cancelling the sixth and seventh one-day internationals. We are grateful for their co-operation to that effect.

“I read a report this morning that we had asked to cancel the Test series. I would refute those claims. We did not request the cancellation of the Test series. Whenever England go to play cricket we have security advice and we act on that advice.

“At the moment we are awaiting a further security report. If we are then told that it’s safe to continue with the Test series then that’s what we will do.”

This afternoon, Lalit Modi, the vice-president of the BCCI, said he thought the Test series, which begins in Ahmedabad on December 11, would go ahead despite the attacks although he admitted the second Test in Bombay would be have to be moved.

“The two Test matches are going on, the only issue is that the Mumbai test will be moved,” he said. “In the next hour or so I will try to schedule that in another location. Chances are it will be somewhere in the south of India but we need to see which venues are available.”

Although confusion surrounds any new schedule, Modi does not think the tour will be extended. “That will not be necessary as the Champions League Twenty20 has been postponed so we have an additional 10 days in between,” he added

Earlier, Morris met N Srinivasan, the BCCI secretary, before briefing the players with Reg Dickason, the security officer who travels with the squad. The India team are staying at the same hotel, which is being heavily guarded by armed police outside the main gate. Inside, James Anderson was strumming a guitar, Paul Collingwood was playing table tennis and Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara were competing at pool.

Indian television was still reporting that the tour has been cancelled even after the ECB said that they will remain here for a further day. With the second Test in Mumbai – and the team due to stay at the Taj Palace Hotel targeted by the terrorists – there will have to be, at the very least, a change to the itinerary.

The Professional Cricketers’ Association today insisted the wellbeing of the players was paramount.

“The safety of the players is absolutely paramount in this whole thing,” Dougie Brown, cricket chairman of the PCA, said. “The game of cricket is insignificant when people’s lives are at threat.

“We can only judge if someone’s life is at threat from what we are seeing and it is not a safe place for visiting cricketing teams to be at the moment. “Is this just going to be in Mumbai? Who knows? The main thing is we have to look after the security of our players.

“Can the safety of our players be guaranteed? On the basis of what we have seen in the last few hours, no.”

England have their own security experts as part of their entourage but Brown hinted concern among the squad for their own safety would be inevitable.

“We are just cricketers and simply get told what to do,” Brown added. “But the England players will be meeting and talking amongst themselves. I can guess as to what they are thinking about now.

“You can’t be locked in a room in India for six weeks and, as we have seen, being locked in a hotel room might not necessarily be safe anyway.”

At least 100 people have been killed in coordinated attacks by Islamist militants in India’s commercial capital of Bombay.

November 27, 2008 - Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , ,

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