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Page last updated at 19:33 GMT, Saturday, 29 November 2008

England wait on security report

England captain Kevin Pietersen arrives back at Heathrow
England captain Kevin Pietersen arrives back at Heathrow

England could decide as soon as Monday whether to return to India following the attacks in Mumbai.

Hugh Morris, the managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said a security assessment would be conducted in the next 48 hours.

Speaking at a news conference following the team's return to Heathrow, Morris admitted there was "some degree of nervousness" in the England camp.

But he insisted they would return if their safety could be guaranteed.

At least 172 people were killed in Wednesday's attacks on hotels, a rail station, a Jewish centre and other sites in the Mumbai.

One of the hotels, the Taj Mahal Palace, hosted the England players a fortnight ago and was due to accommodate them again prior to the second Test against India on 19 December.

But in the wake of the tragedy, the England team decided to fly back to Britain, putting the forthcoming two-Test series in doubt.

Would I go back? If it was safe and secure, absolutely

Hugh Morris
ECB managing director

The two remaining one-day internationals had already been scrapped, with India holding an unassailable 5-0 lead in the seven-match contest.

The future of the tour will depend on a security report provided by consultant Reg Dickason as well as talks involving the ECB, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Morris said the report would be carried out in the next 24/48 hours.

"We have a team of people that we rely on for our safety and security information," he said.

"They're pulling that information together over the next 24 to 48 hours and, clearly, we'll assess that information when we have it."

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He acknowledged that the team had a "very short timescale" to work with, with the first Test due to be played in the western city of Ahmedabad from December 11-15.

"Clearly, we are committed to going back and playing in a Test series if it is safe to do so," he said.

"Would I go back? If it was safe and secure, absolutely."

But he added no player would be forced to return against their will.

"I do not think we would force anybody to do anything," said Morris.

"There's a degree of nervousness, there's no doubt about that. That's only natural. It's affected everybody."

But he added: "We are committed to going back, to playing in the Test series assuming it is safe to do so."

The BCCI shifted the second Test from Mumbai to the southern city of Chennai, which is scheduled to be played from December 19-23.

If these fanatics are going to target people, then the England cricket side could be a very big target for them

Lord MacLaurin
Former ECB chairman

Before leaving India, Pietersen told the BBC that his team's safety was paramount.

"We will make every effort to come back for the Tests, but at the end of the day if it's not safe we won't be coming back," he said.

"I'll never force anybody. A man is a man and he can make his own decisions."

Writing in Sunday's News of the World, Pietersen added that the attacks had affected him deeply.

"Every time I see the TV footage of the carnage in the Indian city, I realise how close we were to death," he wrote.

"I haven't slept thinking about the three-day rampage and siege. We were 800 miles from the attack, but suddenly we felt very vulnerable."

Pietersen said he feared the England team - and their captain - would be a target. "It makes my blood run cold," he added.

Lord MacLaurin, who was chairman of the ECB back in 2001 when Robert Croft and Andrew Caddick pulled out of the tour of India with security concerns post-September 11, said he could not see the players returning.

"If these fanatics are going to target people, then the England cricket side could be a very big target for them," he said.

"I would be very, very surprised if the security people will give them the OK to go back. For myself, I don't think they should go back.

"I think it's sad for cricket but the safety of our players is absolutely paramount and I am sure that the ECB will take the same view."



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see also
Troops search Mumbai siege hotel
29 Nov 08 |  South Asia
PCB chief fears divide in cricket
29 Nov 08 |  Pakistan
India tour of Pakistan 'unlikely'
29 Nov 08 |  Pakistan
Police declare Mumbai siege over
29 Nov 08 |  South Asia
Cricketer escapes terror attack
28 Nov 08 |  Hereford/Worcs
Jonathan Agnew column
28 Nov 08 |  England
Mumbai rocked by deadly attacks
27 Nov 08 |  South Asia


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
The Times Kevin Pietersen leaves decision to players - 6 hrs ago
Eat Sleep Sport Cricket: KP - players must choose to return - 7 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Power battle looms over India return - 8 hrs ago
The Times Pietersen leaves decision to players - 10 hrs ago
Sporting Life INDIA TEST VENUE CHANGES - 13 hrs ago


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