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England to tour with full squad

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Cricket bosses commend players' decision

England's two-Test series in India will go ahead after the players were assured at a meeting on Sunday there would be no threat to their safety.

England are due to fly from Abu Dhabi to India with a full squad on Monday.

"It's a brave and courageous decision that will be respected around the world," said England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Hugh Morris.

England's one-day series in India was cut short after the 26 November terror attacks in Mumbai.

The first Test will begin on Thursday in Chennai, while the second Test is pencilled in for Mohali and is scheduled to start on 19 December.

However, Morris is still to visit the northern Indian city of Mohali, and Bangalore and Delhi have been mooted as possible alternatives.

Having spoken to some of the players, terrorism and the possibility of what they might find is very much on their minds

BBC Sport's Joe Wilson
Following the Mumbai attacks, England players and staff returned to the UK and were given time alone to decide whether they wanted to go back to India for the Tests.

They then flew to Abu Dhabi where they have been holding a training camp and awaiting a full security update.

The ECB announced the decision to go ahead with the tour after a two-hour meeting on Sunday, before which it was revealed both Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison were harbouring doubts about the tour.

"It's obviously been a very emotional 10 days or so since the atrocities in Mumbai," added Morris.

"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.

"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."

Hugh Morris and Sean Morris, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA), as well as security adviser Reg Dickason, have spent time in India assessing the level of threat and security measures in place.

JONATHAN AGNEW COLUMN
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"It's a massively challenging decision for senior players who stood up and clearly took a lot of responsibility," said the PCA's Sean Morris.

Earlier, Giles Clarke, chairman of the ECB, stressed the importance of the message that would be sent out if the tour went ahead.

"We're determined not to let terrorism do the game of cricket down," Clarke told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It is critical, just as it was after 9/11 in the US, for normal life to resume and for people to be able to carry out their normal activities in defiance of whatever an unpleasant group of men might try to do."

However, fast bowler Harmison had said he was prepared to return home if he felt it was the right decision.

"Whatever we hear at our security briefing, I reserve the right to make my own decision to fly home on Monday if it is the right thing to do," he wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

Andrew Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff was among those weighing up their decision on Sunday

"On the one shoulder a voice has been telling me: 'Stuff the terrorists. Get in there, play the Test and give it your best shot.'

"Then the man on my other shoulder pipes up: 'You are going into a country some are describing as a war zone. You've got a family and four kids. Is it right to put yourself at risk?'"

The England team went home last Saturday following the attacks in Mumbai, which claimed almost 200 lives over three days.

The first Test was moved to Chennai from Ahmedabad, while the second Test was scheduled to take place in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Asad Rauf has had to step down as an umpire for the scheduled first Test as he could not get the proper visa, according to the International Cricket Council.

Pakistan nationals require city-specific visas when travelling to India and Rauf, who will be replaced by New Zealand's Billy Bowden, was issued visas for the original Test venues.

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see also
England in training
08 Dec 08 |  England
England call up Khan and Rashid
07 Dec 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
07 Dec 08 |  England
Back in the nets
05 Dec 08 |  England
England set to resume India tour
03 Dec 08 |  England
Police declare Mumbai siege over
29 Nov 08 |  South Asia
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket


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