December 3, 2008

England must lead the way

There has been an understandable concentration on the negative implications of some or all of England's cricketers not returning to India for the Test series following the Mumbai terrorist attack
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There has been an understandable concentration on the negative implications of some or all of England’s cricketers not returning to India for the Test series following the Mumbai terrorist attack. Far less has been said and written of the potential positive impact of them going and playing.

Sport has often been used to make political statements, its huge popularity and symbolic power exploited for both sinister and benevolent purposes. This Test series offers a chance for English cricketers not merely to provide a welcome distraction, but to make a potent public statement, a significant human gesture of defiance and of solidarity with the Indian people, that will have far greater and more lasting impact and meaning than any sporting achievements (or failures) on the field of play.

If England refuse to return, they should not be accused of cowardice, abdication of responsibility, or (with reference to the London bombings of the summer of 2005) double standards. These men are sportsmen, not soldiers or diplomats, and they have no occupational duty to confront danger. And the two situations, whilst comparable, are not identical. However, if they do go, it could prove to be one of the most praiseworthy and important deeds in the history of English cricket.

The result of the matches would be incidental; the team would have had even less practice and acclimatisation than they were originally scheduled to have, it seems unlikely to be a first-choice XI, and they may be unable play with optimum focus and intensity. But the fact that they did play would be remembered for all cricketing time.

Thus it often is when sport is played out of its sporting comfort zone, or when it collides with politics. Who remembers who won wartime matches or the Victory Tests of 1945? Or, less heroically, it is not the results and statistics of the rebel tours of South Africa that are carved into the history of the game, but the bald fact that they happened.

If the currency of Test cricket is slightly devalued by England fielding an understrength team, so what? It is routinely diminished for far less worthy reasons nowadays. England have a chance to claim a small slice of cricketing immortality. Let us hope they are first able, and then willing, to take it.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • James on December 13, 2008, 10:49 GMT

    1. I have a great deal of respect for the players who have chosen to tour, but do not blame those who do not feel brave enought to take the chance. The players who are going are donating away half their salaries, so not "saying" they are sympathetic seems petty. 2. I really don't think locking out Pakistan is good for anyone. The problem is lawlessness, not geopolitics, especially as the new regime in Pakistan wants to catch those criminals as much as India does. The suspects seem to be dissafected young members of Laskar-e-Toiba who have gone on a wildcat attack of their own after the leadership went to ground following the organisation's recent banning in Pakistan. Democracies stifling democracies (especially precarious ones like in Pakistan) help no-one. except the terror perpertrators. (I know there's baggage with the Pakistani ISI and such, but give em a go). 3. Sport gets political, but this is not a case wothrty of sanction, unlike South Africa 1971-92 or toaday's Zimbabwe.

  • Aussie Din ks on December 4, 2008, 22:45 GMT

    Solidarity I don't think so. I think that the English team and most other teams would happily stay at home but they dare not because if they do not go to India I am sure they would definitely spoil their chances of getting a contract under the IPL. So please lets not delude our selves with heroics and solidarity because it rubbish and we all know it.

  • cricket lover on December 4, 2008, 19:18 GMT

    I agree with Linda. How can these English players be so insensitive towards the loss of life in Mumbai where they had stayed and been pampered in the near past. At least they should have shown some sympathy and condolences towards the victims of the attack. The only comments I see from them is how close they were!!!

    Well just tell them it is an IPL tournament and they will be paid a million dollar each then they all will say there is no issue with the security. Even their wives and loved ones will sing the same song.

    I don't care if they go to India or not. If they decide not to go then it will hurt them more than the BCCI and the Indian team.

  • SSCHICAGO on December 4, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    This article is great and even though I am miles away sitting in chicago, reading these words and comments from Sir Ian Botham have sent blood rushing through my veins. I am an ardent cricket fan, and past few days has made all of us understand cricket ina new light - when it can extend beyond the boundaries and mean so much to a nation or two nations or the entire world. Not even Commonwealth nations but the entire world will take notice of England coming back as a symbol of humanity and courage, and so goes for India team as well. It takes a lot of heart to go back on the ground and play for 10 days. One good thing that has come out of recent happenings is that both cricket boards have been mature in their decisions and kept the IPL and Stanford on the backburner - this is not about money, but pure human spirit. Cricket traditions have been remembered for hatred and acrimony (Ashes), for once we should not fail to start a tradition of solidarity every time England & India play tests.

  • jaymin on December 4, 2008, 4:59 GMT

    Great article Andy, I can see that you can also write some sensitive & knowledgeable articles along with the extremely funny ones that you write. It is so nice to see that there are still lot of decent human beings on earth and it is all not a cruel world out there. I am an Indian (currently living in australia) and my heart is deeply touched by all the english fans blaming their own team for aborting the tour and only worrying about their own sake. I understand that they are cricketers and not soldiers but the way they say that it could have been us had it been before a week is just not acceptible. It would have been the same when they had london bombings, did they not go to that part of london at any time during their life????? as for my pakistani fnds getting upset, ur country is the root of terrorism so no one would like to go there so dnt compare India with pak. Its not about IPL money, its about being safe and being human.

  • Ray on December 4, 2008, 2:48 GMT

    Ok, that said I do agree that England coming back to play as a full team is worth high praise. It's a statement they don't have to make but if they do end up making it, it'll be a statement worth applauding for years to come. Even a 2-0 Test defeat will be, in terms of what really matters, a stunning victory.

  • Ray on December 4, 2008, 2:42 GMT

    "I think it was a mistake not to move them to a closer place of safety."

    Jackie, do you have any idea how big India is? You're saying that with the VVIP security protecting English players a thousand miles away from Mumbai, they were somehow not "safe"? Way safer tucked in between tens of elite commandos than back in England if you ask me. An interesting tangent is that with so many commandos being assigned to protecting VIPs, VVIPs, VVVIPs (ad infinitum), there are nought left for protecting average citizens. The decision to return is an obvious one, but knee-jerk decision to fly back in panic was nothing short of insanep.

  • Krishna on December 4, 2008, 2:27 GMT

    Andy--Great! Under all that humor and satire lurks a sensitive heart. I would only like to add that among the positives for a probably second-fiddle English team, one would be a pleasant discovery that the second fiddle is better than the first.

  • Lokesh on December 3, 2008, 20:19 GMT

    finally, a sensible article on cricinfo.

    More than the game of cricket, its the message which is going out to terrorists - that you cannot defeat humanity by your guns. The focus in India is not on cricket and result of the match is of no value. its the message to terrorists thats of supreme importance. I believe, this would be the most important series that India and England would play in cricket history.

  • Jackie on December 3, 2008, 20:14 GMT

    The team were flown back when the seige was still on. I think it was a mistake not to move them to a closer place of safety. The question of money is neither here or there. The decision to return is the right one, the only honourable one if security is in place. Who wins? Everyone regardless of the result of the games.

  • James on December 13, 2008, 10:49 GMT

    1. I have a great deal of respect for the players who have chosen to tour, but do not blame those who do not feel brave enought to take the chance. The players who are going are donating away half their salaries, so not "saying" they are sympathetic seems petty. 2. I really don't think locking out Pakistan is good for anyone. The problem is lawlessness, not geopolitics, especially as the new regime in Pakistan wants to catch those criminals as much as India does. The suspects seem to be dissafected young members of Laskar-e-Toiba who have gone on a wildcat attack of their own after the leadership went to ground following the organisation's recent banning in Pakistan. Democracies stifling democracies (especially precarious ones like in Pakistan) help no-one. except the terror perpertrators. (I know there's baggage with the Pakistani ISI and such, but give em a go). 3. Sport gets political, but this is not a case wothrty of sanction, unlike South Africa 1971-92 or toaday's Zimbabwe.

  • Aussie Din ks on December 4, 2008, 22:45 GMT

    Solidarity I don't think so. I think that the English team and most other teams would happily stay at home but they dare not because if they do not go to India I am sure they would definitely spoil their chances of getting a contract under the IPL. So please lets not delude our selves with heroics and solidarity because it rubbish and we all know it.

  • cricket lover on December 4, 2008, 19:18 GMT

    I agree with Linda. How can these English players be so insensitive towards the loss of life in Mumbai where they had stayed and been pampered in the near past. At least they should have shown some sympathy and condolences towards the victims of the attack. The only comments I see from them is how close they were!!!

    Well just tell them it is an IPL tournament and they will be paid a million dollar each then they all will say there is no issue with the security. Even their wives and loved ones will sing the same song.

    I don't care if they go to India or not. If they decide not to go then it will hurt them more than the BCCI and the Indian team.

  • SSCHICAGO on December 4, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    This article is great and even though I am miles away sitting in chicago, reading these words and comments from Sir Ian Botham have sent blood rushing through my veins. I am an ardent cricket fan, and past few days has made all of us understand cricket ina new light - when it can extend beyond the boundaries and mean so much to a nation or two nations or the entire world. Not even Commonwealth nations but the entire world will take notice of England coming back as a symbol of humanity and courage, and so goes for India team as well. It takes a lot of heart to go back on the ground and play for 10 days. One good thing that has come out of recent happenings is that both cricket boards have been mature in their decisions and kept the IPL and Stanford on the backburner - this is not about money, but pure human spirit. Cricket traditions have been remembered for hatred and acrimony (Ashes), for once we should not fail to start a tradition of solidarity every time England & India play tests.

  • jaymin on December 4, 2008, 4:59 GMT

    Great article Andy, I can see that you can also write some sensitive & knowledgeable articles along with the extremely funny ones that you write. It is so nice to see that there are still lot of decent human beings on earth and it is all not a cruel world out there. I am an Indian (currently living in australia) and my heart is deeply touched by all the english fans blaming their own team for aborting the tour and only worrying about their own sake. I understand that they are cricketers and not soldiers but the way they say that it could have been us had it been before a week is just not acceptible. It would have been the same when they had london bombings, did they not go to that part of london at any time during their life????? as for my pakistani fnds getting upset, ur country is the root of terrorism so no one would like to go there so dnt compare India with pak. Its not about IPL money, its about being safe and being human.

  • Ray on December 4, 2008, 2:48 GMT

    Ok, that said I do agree that England coming back to play as a full team is worth high praise. It's a statement they don't have to make but if they do end up making it, it'll be a statement worth applauding for years to come. Even a 2-0 Test defeat will be, in terms of what really matters, a stunning victory.

  • Ray on December 4, 2008, 2:42 GMT

    "I think it was a mistake not to move them to a closer place of safety."

    Jackie, do you have any idea how big India is? You're saying that with the VVIP security protecting English players a thousand miles away from Mumbai, they were somehow not "safe"? Way safer tucked in between tens of elite commandos than back in England if you ask me. An interesting tangent is that with so many commandos being assigned to protecting VIPs, VVIPs, VVVIPs (ad infinitum), there are nought left for protecting average citizens. The decision to return is an obvious one, but knee-jerk decision to fly back in panic was nothing short of insanep.

  • Krishna on December 4, 2008, 2:27 GMT

    Andy--Great! Under all that humor and satire lurks a sensitive heart. I would only like to add that among the positives for a probably second-fiddle English team, one would be a pleasant discovery that the second fiddle is better than the first.

  • Lokesh on December 3, 2008, 20:19 GMT

    finally, a sensible article on cricinfo.

    More than the game of cricket, its the message which is going out to terrorists - that you cannot defeat humanity by your guns. The focus in India is not on cricket and result of the match is of no value. its the message to terrorists thats of supreme importance. I believe, this would be the most important series that India and England would play in cricket history.

  • Jackie on December 3, 2008, 20:14 GMT

    The team were flown back when the seige was still on. I think it was a mistake not to move them to a closer place of safety. The question of money is neither here or there. The decision to return is the right one, the only honourable one if security is in place. Who wins? Everyone regardless of the result of the games.

  • Chris on December 3, 2008, 19:35 GMT

    Nice article, Andy. I understand the objective of this article is to draw a line between sports and terrorism. But the line is still subjective given the fact that some raise the concerns of polarized cricket diplomacy against Pak who also suffers from terrorist attack. I like to see some more articles on that on why most teams are not reluctant to visit Pak under the similar circumstances when they can visit INDIA. Let's be honest! I might be wrong in my prospective and happy to take your view point. Here are the fact whey we have two different line for PAK and INDIA.

    1. Cricket needs Money and without INDIA, it will loose 80% of revenue. Pak does not offer same. 2. BCCI can afford the money to spend on security and Pak may not (at least speculation)! 3. Terrorism in both country is different. There are safe city in INDIA where most will feel comfortable. But Pak is hard hit by this barbarians and face the fact, it has the origin over there and Pak cannot protect its leader (Benzir).

  • John Traynor on December 3, 2008, 18:15 GMT

    As an England fan I have been very disappointed with comments made by some England players. If they had bothered to think about the current situation, they would have realised that they will be absolutely safe for the two tests, partly due to the increased security following the attacks in Mumbai. The players have not exercised much intelligence assessing the situation. India and Pakistan are the heart of cricket. Without those two countries, cricket would be a minority sport and players elsewhere, Australia and England included, would have salaries that are merely a fraction of what they have now. The players owe it to the people of India to return. Some players have expressed reservations because they are concerned about their families worrying about them. Fine, just explain that if India and Pakistan are excluded then they will have to sell their big house, cancel all the expensive holidays, send the children to a state school, and his wife will actually have to get a job.

  • PottedLambShanks on December 3, 2008, 17:50 GMT

    After years and years of being handed deliberately inconvenient tour itineraries by the BCCI, England doesn't owe the Indians anything - they only want us to come and play because of the cash they would lose out on, it's never about the game with the BCCI, always about the cash and our players should not be risking their lives for something and transient as filthy lucre.

  • AP on December 3, 2008, 17:49 GMT

    Really good article. Forget the money for a minute, it is about defecting the terrorism. Harmison is a baby when comes to travelling, so I was not surprised at his decision. I would like to see if the same players will play in the IPL in April.

  • S. N. on December 3, 2008, 17:36 GMT

    Cricket is played over the years, as to bring love and understanding to everyone. England has accepted this, because they are suffering the same faith as India over the years since India become Independent. What we have to worry about, is that these terrorist are spread throughout the WORLD and we have to protect and safegaurd our people from being tormented and humilated by these ideas of seeing a game of sports and to be relaxed. We have to try and identify these people and point them out before any thing happen. India and England are the targets, not Pakistan. I am sure they will play a great game of cricket. S N

  • Ray on December 3, 2008, 17:23 GMT

    "I think they've already lost the chance to make a 'strong statement' by coming back home so quickly"

    Spot on Linda. I think the decision to fly back was insane. What were they hoping to achieve by flying back? In fact, if the English team was in the Taj at the time hardly anyone would've died as the terrorists would've either come across the formidable security protecting the English team or would've postponed the attack to another day. But all they do is whinge about oh how close they were. Harmison epitomises this petty behaviour... he doesn't want to tour at the best ot times (unless for a chance to make a quick $1M) so this seems like a welcome excuse courtesy of Santa Toiba.

    I think the English team is full of wimps not because they might not go back (that I can understand), but because they ran out of a fairly secure situation (for them) with their tail between their legs because they were oh so close to it all. Shame on them.

  • islandmaster on December 3, 2008, 17:18 GMT

    this can be the mosr suitable and appropriate answer to terrorism.let cricket be an answer to this threat.initially England team should not have gone home. by so doing they have given an indication that terrorism has won even though they were far away from the actual action. by coming back now they are showing some maturity in their thoughts. hats off to them. Nassir Hussain has so rightly pointed out in his column that terrorist can strike anywhere but that should not mean that we should stop living our life because of them.geoffrey boycott and the former chairman of ECB have gone nuts by saying that england is making a mistake by coming back . in fact they should along with rashid latiff be banned to ever come to indiaor even be associated with anything to do with cricket. Boycotts and latiff's loose mouth are good for verbal diahrrea. if they can not contribute towards the growth of cricket let them go and find some other trade where they can be safe from any kind of terrorism.

  • King_Viv on December 3, 2008, 16:14 GMT

    I agree wholeheartedly with Linda's comments. I haven't heard one England player come out and comment on the Indians who died which no doubt included some of the kind staff who pampered them at the Taj two weeks earlier. The team were 800 miles away and their itinerary was well known so it is debatable whether they are a target. It is also debatable whether Britons were a target since, thankfully, only one died out of scores of Britons that must have been in the hotels and Cafe Leopold at the time. I think England should have spent a week in Dubai or Abu Dhabi practising and showing an intent to play the tests. By returning home they have shown scant respect for the Indian authorities, little interest in returning to complete the tour and like Linda says, appear like self obsessed whingers. Perhaps the negative attitude is compounded by the fact they didn't win the Stanford $20m and were 5-0 down in the ODIs.

  • Harikesh Jaisingh on December 3, 2008, 16:01 GMT

    In the light of the decision taken by the BCCI to host the two Test matches in Chennai and Mohali amidst the highest level of security there will be no justification for the English team to pull out. If they do not tour they will be sending a wrong signal to the terrorists and the rest of the world. In this regard, it is important to stress the fact that India is geographically a vast country. The distances from Mumbai, where the atrocities took place, are 1027 kms to Chennai and 1368 kms to Mohali. These are roughly the distances from London to Marseille and Majorca respectively.

    If the tour does go ahead but players are given a choice as to whether or not they wish to travel to India, this may not be so bad a thing and could give an opportunity to others in the fringe to show what they can do.

    Assuming, in an extreme case, that the majority of the current team refuse to tour, it would still be possible to field a decent enough team comprising English-qualified players of South Asian descent (however distant) who may arguably feel “less threatened” as a potential target of would-be terrorists. If Nasser Hussain could be talked out of retirement, he could be ask to skipper the side which could be chosen from a squad that would include ( in no particular order ) the following others: Mark Ramprakash, Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel, Monty Panesar, Saj Mahmood, Vikram Solanki, Kabir Ali, Dmitri Mascarenhas, Usman Afzal, Yasir Arafat, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid & Saqlain Mushtaq (now a British citizen). My apologies to anyone else in the county circuit who may feel left out

  • Sushovan on December 3, 2008, 15:50 GMT

    I feel that an English team without the likes of Flintoff, Harmison, Anderson wouldn't be much of a fun to watch to. Good for India...they may have a cakewalk and can notch up a few ranks in the ICC cricket ratings...I feel if the venues and the security status are given a green signal by ECB officials, the entire English lot should return to India...no harm meant, but I can't believe that the same two guys Freddie and Harmison were urging the English Board to allow them to participate in the IPL next season in order to avoid their team's lagging behind the world cricket. If they don't feel safe to come and play here for a two test series...imagine them playing the IPL...so it's upto these players whether they wanna give a good competition or the story will be very similar to the recent one day series...

  • Offstump with Bails on December 3, 2008, 15:44 GMT

    I am in total agreement with Linda, she has summed up the human side so well. There are more important things in life than the bickerings of international cricketers. They should not be pandered like it is done around the world. Messrs Harmison, Anderson & Flintoff have already lost a lot of friends & admirers not only in India but elsewhere too, they are no hero material to idolise, whether they come or not the damage has been done. Any way, this incident does give them a good exit route to be saved from having their bowling figures battered in Chennai and Mohali. As far as the long term effect is concerned, I dont think there will be any. The IPL & ICL will make sure of that. I hope the 3 English bowlers will not be considered by the franchisees as their relaibility is totally suspect.

  • cricpolitics on December 3, 2008, 15:41 GMT

    As many have argued before and the truth is that these teams and cricket boards are driven by the money again. They just simply can't afford not to come to India. There will be a big loss to Australia, England and South Africa in particular if this tour does not go ahead since they are desparately waiting to play the chmapions league so that they could stuff their pockets with more money.

  • Lotusman on December 3, 2008, 15:37 GMT

    What with all the discussion about security, there seems to have been very little comment about the necessary preparation for what are Test Matches. Slotting them in between a long one-day series and Christmas is bad enough - the warm-up game in India has been cancelled, so the team is supposed to be in danger, flown home, then flown somewhere else on the way and finally expected to perform at the highest level. It's immaterial that India is a difficult place to tour and that England were being hammered; there needs to be a proper time given if Tests are to mean anything.

  • Raghu Kotha on December 3, 2008, 15:24 GMT

    I am very happy to know that England will come back to play matches.This show that no one can stop the game of Cricket

  • Swami on December 3, 2008, 15:19 GMT

    While we will be happy if England comes down and plays cricket in India, it will be equally understandable if they dont come. Many Indians are of the opinion that we wont be able to enjoy cricket under the current circumstances. I cant imagine the players whooping in delight after a wicket or century or winning a match. Having said that I have booked an air ticket from Singapore to Chennai in time for the 1st test. If England is not coming, kindly let us know early enough as I need to cancel my tickets.

  • Sunil Kumar on December 3, 2008, 15:18 GMT

    It is good to hear that England team is pushing cricket ahead of terror fear even though the later had a serious impact on its players. This shows that terror has nothing to do with the sporting world which brings together the people of different nations with different culture and fight against the same cause "terror".

  • shithy on December 3, 2008, 15:15 GMT

    Excellent blog. Let me add one more sentence to the long list of "Why England should come back to India ?" The team that returns will receive a welcome unparalleled in any sport in the world. On the first day of the first test when either the English batsman or the English team walks on to the field they will receive a standing ovation.

  • Muhammad Waqar on December 3, 2008, 14:47 GMT

    I am glad to know that England is coming back to India but it also does show the double standard of the Western team Will they ever come back to Pakistan if such a horrifying act happened in Karachi or Lahore. I doubt and the answer is clear NO!!!!!!!!.

  • runDC on December 3, 2008, 14:13 GMT

    What an excellent blog. I agree with everything Andy says and I think it is important that we send a team. If some of our players opt out I cannot blame them and I agree the result would be secondary. It would also give Sajjid Mahmood, Bresnan, Kirby, Tremlett et al a chance to shine. What about Hoggy - he was harshly treated. Id love to see him back playing for England. I see they have called in 3 Middx trundlers because they have visas. I hope this is not a criteria for playing for England. I,m sure corners can be cut to ensure urgent issues of visas. Keep up the blogs Andy - very entertaining

  • Alasdair Morrison on December 3, 2008, 13:40 GMT

    Thank you for making such an important point. It is not a matter whether the likes of Harmison, Flintoff or Anderson go. Indeed all 3 have good reasons not to and as you say whoever chooses not to go should not be vilified. That said, I am not sure they should be rewarded either. It is however imperative that an England team does go. Those that choose to go should be celebrated and rewarded. Even if we end up with the likes of Kirby opening the bowling (Bet he would go if asked and has experience of Indian conditions). What matters most is that the games take place. Whatever the final XI and whatever happens, test cricket, England, India and humanity will be enhanced not devalued by the willingness and determination to try get these games played. Personally I believe it is also an important public opportunity to honour the dead and register sympathy for the bereaved but in the important context that life goes on and that the majority will not be dictated to by terrorists or extremists.

  • Linda on December 3, 2008, 13:10 GMT

    I think they've already lost the chance to make a 'strong statement' by coming back home so quickly and then by all this delay and doubt about whether they go back. If a couple of players had at least come forward and said 'I want to go back. I want to show solidarity with the Indian people.' I would have felt much warmer towards them. Maybe they have been mis-quoted, but all their comments seem to be about how close they came to being involved, 188 people were much closer and sympathy for them seems to be way down the list of England's concerns. The English cricket team were obviously not a target for the terrorists, and it's definitely in doubt whether British and US citizens were really targets, as has been claimed, considering few died. Yet to hear the players talk you'd think it was all about them. I'm starting to think they shouldn't bother going back, India have a lot to cope with without having to pander to the whims of that bunch of self obsessed whingers.

  • thedeviantcynic.blogspot.com on December 3, 2008, 12:58 GMT

    I agree. A match played at a respectful distance after the Mumbai strikes will be a good message to send out. I think the security threat from cricket players is mostly for the Pak team. And not from gun toting misguided violent youth, but from some fervent nationalists waving sticks and stones. A respected Mumbai political leader has - in a display of alarming clarity - already identified the Pakistani cricket team to be a part of the problem and has decided to prevent the Pak team members from ever entering the state of Maharashtra. That'll show them!!

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  • thedeviantcynic.blogspot.com on December 3, 2008, 12:58 GMT

    I agree. A match played at a respectful distance after the Mumbai strikes will be a good message to send out. I think the security threat from cricket players is mostly for the Pak team. And not from gun toting misguided violent youth, but from some fervent nationalists waving sticks and stones. A respected Mumbai political leader has - in a display of alarming clarity - already identified the Pakistani cricket team to be a part of the problem and has decided to prevent the Pak team members from ever entering the state of Maharashtra. That'll show them!!

  • Linda on December 3, 2008, 13:10 GMT

    I think they've already lost the chance to make a 'strong statement' by coming back home so quickly and then by all this delay and doubt about whether they go back. If a couple of players had at least come forward and said 'I want to go back. I want to show solidarity with the Indian people.' I would have felt much warmer towards them. Maybe they have been mis-quoted, but all their comments seem to be about how close they came to being involved, 188 people were much closer and sympathy for them seems to be way down the list of England's concerns. The English cricket team were obviously not a target for the terrorists, and it's definitely in doubt whether British and US citizens were really targets, as has been claimed, considering few died. Yet to hear the players talk you'd think it was all about them. I'm starting to think they shouldn't bother going back, India have a lot to cope with without having to pander to the whims of that bunch of self obsessed whingers.

  • Alasdair Morrison on December 3, 2008, 13:40 GMT

    Thank you for making such an important point. It is not a matter whether the likes of Harmison, Flintoff or Anderson go. Indeed all 3 have good reasons not to and as you say whoever chooses not to go should not be vilified. That said, I am not sure they should be rewarded either. It is however imperative that an England team does go. Those that choose to go should be celebrated and rewarded. Even if we end up with the likes of Kirby opening the bowling (Bet he would go if asked and has experience of Indian conditions). What matters most is that the games take place. Whatever the final XI and whatever happens, test cricket, England, India and humanity will be enhanced not devalued by the willingness and determination to try get these games played. Personally I believe it is also an important public opportunity to honour the dead and register sympathy for the bereaved but in the important context that life goes on and that the majority will not be dictated to by terrorists or extremists.

  • runDC on December 3, 2008, 14:13 GMT

    What an excellent blog. I agree with everything Andy says and I think it is important that we send a team. If some of our players opt out I cannot blame them and I agree the result would be secondary. It would also give Sajjid Mahmood, Bresnan, Kirby, Tremlett et al a chance to shine. What about Hoggy - he was harshly treated. Id love to see him back playing for England. I see they have called in 3 Middx trundlers because they have visas. I hope this is not a criteria for playing for England. I,m sure corners can be cut to ensure urgent issues of visas. Keep up the blogs Andy - very entertaining

  • Muhammad Waqar on December 3, 2008, 14:47 GMT

    I am glad to know that England is coming back to India but it also does show the double standard of the Western team Will they ever come back to Pakistan if such a horrifying act happened in Karachi or Lahore. I doubt and the answer is clear NO!!!!!!!!.

  • shithy on December 3, 2008, 15:15 GMT

    Excellent blog. Let me add one more sentence to the long list of "Why England should come back to India ?" The team that returns will receive a welcome unparalleled in any sport in the world. On the first day of the first test when either the English batsman or the English team walks on to the field they will receive a standing ovation.

  • Sunil Kumar on December 3, 2008, 15:18 GMT

    It is good to hear that England team is pushing cricket ahead of terror fear even though the later had a serious impact on its players. This shows that terror has nothing to do with the sporting world which brings together the people of different nations with different culture and fight against the same cause "terror".

  • Swami on December 3, 2008, 15:19 GMT

    While we will be happy if England comes down and plays cricket in India, it will be equally understandable if they dont come. Many Indians are of the opinion that we wont be able to enjoy cricket under the current circumstances. I cant imagine the players whooping in delight after a wicket or century or winning a match. Having said that I have booked an air ticket from Singapore to Chennai in time for the 1st test. If England is not coming, kindly let us know early enough as I need to cancel my tickets.

  • Raghu Kotha on December 3, 2008, 15:24 GMT

    I am very happy to know that England will come back to play matches.This show that no one can stop the game of Cricket

  • Lotusman on December 3, 2008, 15:37 GMT

    What with all the discussion about security, there seems to have been very little comment about the necessary preparation for what are Test Matches. Slotting them in between a long one-day series and Christmas is bad enough - the warm-up game in India has been cancelled, so the team is supposed to be in danger, flown home, then flown somewhere else on the way and finally expected to perform at the highest level. It's immaterial that India is a difficult place to tour and that England were being hammered; there needs to be a proper time given if Tests are to mean anything.