ECB looks out for airport alerts
A nervous England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is to keep tabs on the developing security situation at India's airports as the England squad fly out to Abu Dhabi to prepare for their two Tests in Chennai and Mohali.
Major airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai have been put on high alert after reports they had received threats of attacks by hijacked aircraft, adding to the tense atmosphere surrounding the future of the tour.
"Obviously we're concerned, but what we need to do is find out the information," said Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, at Heathrow airport ahead of the squad's departure for the Middle East. "I've spoken to the security team in Chennai this morning already to find out exactly what the situation is with the alerts. When we get that information it'll be fed back to me, to the board and form part of the security audit that we're undertaking.
"We feel as though going to Abu Dhabi provides us with practice before the first Test match, and it also gives us some more time to implement our security plans on the ground -- they are in Chennai at the moment -- and that is how we're proceeding."
Kevin Pietersen, the England captain, said he'd seen news of the airport situation this morning but insisted he was concentrating on the Test series. "It'll buy us some more time in Abu Dhabi and I think it's fantastic that we're going to demonstrate in India that we're showing our support to play Test match cricket. I'm very confident that we have 15 lads who will be playing Test cricket next week."
Hugh and Sean Morris, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, are flying straight to India to meet up with Reg Dickason, the ECB security advisor, who has been assessing the venues in recent days. They are then due to meet the England squad in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to deliver a final security report, at which point the decision will be made as to whether to proceed to India.
A full England squad has been named despite speculation that a number of players would pull out and Pietersen said time at home helped everyone come to their decision.
"Everyone has become a lot more open minded, spoken to family members, and realise that it's pretty huge to go back at India's time of need. The boys want to go and play Test cricket. I'm very confident that if everything goes according to plan we'll have a full squad to pick from."