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England at full-strength

cricket Updated: Dec 04, 2008 22:45 IST
Venkat Ananth
Venkat Ananth
Hindustan Times
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After England announced their squad of 15 to tour India on Wednesday, captain Kevin Pietersen confirmed that the players were raring to go and play some “red ball” cricket.

He also emphasized the need for his team to tour India and rub shoulders with the Indian people and show complete solidarity.

Speaking to reporters before their scheduled departure to Abu Dhabi, Pietersen said, “It will be fantastic go back to India and rub shoulder-to-shoulder with the Indian public. We’re delighted to be flying out to Abu Dhabi today, where we buy some time, assess the security situation and then take a collective decision.”

He added the decision to tour India was a collective team decision and that no player needed to be persuaded. Pietersen said,

“The players were really more open-minded since the past two days. We want to seriously make amends to our performances in the ODIs. But I didn’t persuade them. I respect their decisions. They are men, and can take serious decisions for themselves. The lads are great and confident about a fresh start.”

On how this situation was different to the postponement of the Champions Trophy in Pakistan, Pietersen said, “Pakistan is a separate issue. The board dealt with it in the best manner possible at that time. Right now, we want to go back and concentrate on playing ‘red ball’ cricket in the wonderful country of India.”

Hugh Morris, ECB’s managing director, played down fears after a hijack alert had been issued around Indian airports. “Obviously, it is a concern. We are trying to find out what it was about. Our security team is in India, and whatever information we get, we will pass it on to players,” he said.

On the ensuing Abu Dhabi situation, Morris said, “We have had no contact with the BCCI over a team flying out to play a practice match in Abu Dhabi.

“The authorities there have been really accommodating and ensured that everything is in place by the time we arrived. We are flying out extra bowlers to help our players prepare.”

Morris also praised BCCI's flexibility to accommodate England’s requirements.

“The BCCI showed a great sense of sympathy in calling off the ODIs. They took our concerns about the venues seriously and promptly changed them and displayed a great amount of flexibility,” he said.

Sean Morris, the PCA chief executive, confirmed to the Hindustan Times that both Morris and he would be reaching Abu Dhabi to brief the players on the ground situation in India.