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Jonathan Agnew column

By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Fast bowler Steve Harmison (left) and coach Peter Moores
England will receive a reception fit for heroes when they touch down in Chennai, which should help to ease the nagging doubts

Jonathan Agnew

The decision to return to India is quite a result for the England & Wales Cricket Board.

Together with the Professional Cricketers' Association, whose input should not be understated, the administrators have put back on track a tour that seemed beyond salvation only a few days ago.

The players voted with one voice, underlining the team's solidarity and the deep respect the cricketers have for one another.

But there will still be a great deal of tension over the next fortnight. The security will be both suffocating and, for Westerners, bewildering.

The players will be confined to their fortress of a hotel, conveyed to and from the ground in a siren-wailing convoy and surrounded wherever they go by commandos bristling with weapons.

It is not an environment in which international sportsmen can flourish and produce their best, and is to be avoided when at all possible, but these are not normal times.

England are hopelessly underprepared and have not played a Test match for four months.

To play a team which has just beaten Australia - and England's one-day team 5-0 - appears to place Kevin Pietersen's men on a hiding to nothing.

But we must acknowledge the quality of the cricket is of secondary importance this time.

There will be cricket lovers in Pakistan who, with some justification, might ponder whether England would have played there under similar circumstances.

Indeed, we must not lose sight of the political game that has had a major influence here, with the ECB desperate to improve its relationship with its counterpart, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

It could also be argued that those England players who have an eye on signing a lucrative Indian Premier League contract might have appeared hypocritical to have opted out now, but appeared for an Indian franchise in three months.

England will receive a reception fit for heroes when they touch down in Chennai, which should help to ease the nagging doubts that some players inevitably will harbour about returning.

Let us hope that the Indian cricket lovers in Chennai and Mohali show their support by bucking the current trend and turning out in force for the Test matches.

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see also
England to tour with full squad
07 Dec 08 |  England
England call up Khan and Rashid
07 Dec 08 |  England
Police declare Mumbai siege over
29 Nov 08 |  South Asia
Jonathan Agnew column
28 Nov 08 |  England
Champions League cricket on hold
27 Nov 08 |  Cricket
Mumbai rocked by deadly attacks
27 Nov 08 |  South Asia
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket

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