Andrew Flintoff said his decision to tour India for the Test series has nothing to do with his Indian Premier League (IPL) ambitions and asserted security would not be a distraction for his teammates in the two-Test series starting in Chennai on Thursday.
Flintoff, along with Steve Harmison and Graeme Swann, had reservations about touring India after last month’s Mumbai terror attacks but the talismanic all-rounder eventually joined the Test squad and the decision, he says, has nothing to do with IPL.
"There was safety to consider and also whether it was right to be playing in India so soon after Mumbai. I can't vouch for other players but for me the IPL didn't come into it at all. Safety is far bigger than the IPL," Flintoff told the Daily Telegraph.
"I took time to ring family and think it over myself. It was just a case of digesting it and getting it straight in my mind. We needed to know how the tour was going to take place and, once that was presented to us, we could then decide."
Flintoff's comments came amid reports that the English cricketers shrugged off their reluctance to tour India in order to endear themselves to the IPL authorities.
"One of the reasons I decided to go was for my team-mates. We didn't want to get into the position where the team was split up. Even though we got beaten during the One-day series against India, the spirit in the camp was really good and that's something we don't want to lose. So unity has played a major part," Flintoff said, justifying the decision.
It took lot of persuasion and the promise of foolproof security arrangements to convince the English cricketers to return to India. Flintoff admitted it would feel different to be surrounded by commandos almost all the time but dismissed suggestions that it could be a distraction for the side.