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Return was team choice - Flintoff

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Interview - England's Andrew Flintoff

England's Andrew Flintoff insists the decision to resume the two-Test tour in India was made by the whole team rather than senior individuals in the side.

After receiving safety assurances at the weekend, the full-strength squad fly to Chennai on Monday ahead of the first Test, which starts on Thursday.

After the more established players were praised for their stance, Flintoff told BBC Sport: "We decided to go as a team.

"Everyone decided to go. To say it was just senior players would be wrong."

England, whose one-day series in India was cut short after the 26 November attacks in Mumbai, have spent three days at a Sheikh Zayed Stadium training camp in Abu Dhabi in preparation for the two-Test series.

Cricket bosses commend players' decision

The first Test is taking place in Chennai, while the second Test is, at present, pencilled in for Mohali and scheduled to start on 19 December.

England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Hugh Morris described the team's decision as "brave and courageous" but Flintoff, one of the players to show reservations about returning, said the last three days had been "difficult".

"Throughout, everyone has voiced their opinion, whether they be junior or senior players," he added, after being identified as a doubter, along with his friend Steve Harmison.

"When we have been practising out on the field, batting and bowling, the intensity has been fine.

"But when people are on their own, and with time to think, the mood has been different."

JONATHAN AGNEW COLUMN
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England's cricketers face a stern task in the coming weeks, facing an India side who have recently beaten Australia in a Test series as well as trying to put aside the attacks in Mumbai.

Flintoff added: "If you win anything in India I think you are doing well, particularly with the way they played in the one-dayers and the way they played against Australia.

"We have now got two Test matches to show what we can do."

England will have limited preparation for the match in the southern Indian city.

Since beating South Africa at The Oval in early August, they have played exclusively limited-overs cricket, and their last Test in Chennai was in 1993, when they lost by an innings.

Chris Broad, England batsman between 1984-1989 and whose son Stuart is in the squad but struggling with a hamstring injury, called the decision "terrific" for cricket, but added that additional security measures would be a challenge.

"It's a tough decision for the England players to have made, and the Indian players of course, because they are also under some kind of threat," Broad told BBC Radio 5 live.

"Players have got to get used to the fact that now they are going to be cocooned in their hotel with security and just concentrate on playing cricket."

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see also
England to tour with full squad
07 Dec 08 |  England
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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