England v India, 3rd npower Test, Edgbaston August 9, 2011

Test set to begin despite riots

ESPNcricinfo staff

England and India are monitoring the security situation in Birmingham in the wake of the rioting and looting in the city on Monday night but, at the moment, the Edgbaston Test is set to begin as scheduled on Wednesday.

"As far as we're concerned, there's no reason to think the match will not go ahead as planned," an ECB spokesman said.

Inspector Howard Lewis Jones, match commander for Edgbaston cricket ground, said in a statement that police services in Birmingham wouldn't be stretched as a result of the Test.

"A lot of planning and preparation has gone into this event. We have worked very closely with the club and police resources have been set accordingly," he said.

"The Test will not take away resources from policing the wider Birmingham area. West Midlands police recognise the importance of this event and the spectators will be looking forward to this match."

There was extra private security provided by the ECB for India at their hotel on Tuesday night. A statement from the Indian camp, from team manager Anirudh Chaudhary, said: "This is pertaining to the situation in Birmingham. All the members of the Indian touring squad are safe and accounted for. The team management is keeping a close watch on the situation." Players from both sides were safe in their hotels as unrest spread in Birmingham.

"We fully expect the game to go ahead," Andrew Strauss, the England captain, said. "It's up to the authorities to decide whether or not it's right for the game to go ahead and we are focussing and preparing as we normally would. It's slightly extraordinary circumstances at the moment, but for us to think anything other than the game is going ahead would be wrong.

"I don't think we've been distracted much by it. Clearly there are big things going on in the country at the moment but to say that they are affecting us greatly would be wrong. We are quite isolated from it and it hasn't really affected our preparation."

"I think this is an opportunity for cricket to maybe put a feel-good factor to the news papers and show that not everything's bad out there at the moment. Let's divorce the cricket match from what's going in in the country which is clearly not our proudest hour as a country right at the moment."

The BCCI's top brass in said to be in constant touch with the team management and the ECB. It is understood there is no alarm being raised between the boards about India calling off their tour. Ms Dhoni, the India captain, said his team was just concentrating on preparing for the Test. "We are in communication with the board. The concerned authorities from both sides are having a look at the security situation," Dhoni said. "We are avoiding things than we can avoid and are sticking to what we can do, that is preparing for the game. Whatever happens is secondary. At the moment we are happy playing the game. Hopefully we can have the game starting tomorrow and the spectators get to see some good cricket in the next five days."

Several members of the Indian team were out shopping in Birmingham's city centre when the trouble began early on Monday evening and were called back to their hotels. They posted updates on Twitter about the incidents they witnessed from their rooms. Dhoni said they had planned to eat dinner around the city centre but stayed indoors instead. "We were there for quite some time before we came back. We had plans to go for dinner. However, our security officer, who was with us throughout, advised us against it. There was good food in the hotel. So we didn't complain and tried to make the most of the evening."

Some England players and Virat Kohli had turned up to meet fans for the ECB's day-long Cricket-in-the-City programme at Victoria Square in the town centre. Fortuitously, the vandalism began just after the programme ended.

England are staying at the Hyatt Hotel in central Birmingham near where violence broke out. "To be honest we didn't see much," Strauss said. "We saw police cars going back and forth, our security team advised us to stay in the hotel and I think that was pretty wise but we were fairly isolated from it. It's never good to see those scenes on TV.

The riots and looting in Birmingham were copycat incidents following events in London over the previous days. The vandalism was concentrated around the city centre, with masked young men and women going on a rampage from early evening, looting shops and destroying property.

They started by snatching mobile phones and handbags from pedestrians, followed by kicking, punching, breaking windows of shopping centres, banks, pubs, restaurants, forcing people to shut down these establishments. Groups of two or three suddenly grew larger and created an atmosphere of panic and fear. Through the evening and night riot police were on the main streets, armoured police vehicles and other cars scanned the roads, and a helicopter hovered overhead.

The Marriott hotel, where the Indians are staying, is located on Hagley road on Five Ways, one of the major junctions in central Birmingham but slightly outside the city centre. Edgbaston is about a seven-minute drive from their hotel. There were two policemen on motorcycles outside the Indian team hotel last night but there was no police presence this morning.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on August 10, 2011, 9:48 GMT

    The players will be fine, the greater risks will be to spectators going home after the game, especially if they have to go back to New Street station.

  • Ashok on August 10, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    Dear English Fans, No One is comparing the ghastly terrorist attacks in Mumbai to the current riots in Birmingham. But as rightly pointed out by thekobra England got the last two ODI's scheduled at Guwahati & Delhi cancelled due to the attacks in "Mumbai", when they were trailing the ODI series 0-5. Whereas in this case, the riots are happening in the same city where the Test Match is being held. SO cancelling the Test match in Birmingham is more justified than England's case in INDIA.However i would still Love to see India play the series and win the Last Two to draw the series. May the Best Team Win.

  • M on August 10, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    The only danger of the Indians getting mugged and looted will be from the England bowlers and batsmen! India might need extra security when facing missiles thrown by Broad, Anderson and Bresnon and co. I suggest they use a shield as well as a bat for protection!

  • Dummy4 on August 10, 2011, 5:21 GMT

    @demon_bowler: I fully agree with your comment. I am a Mumbaiite and can never forget how Kevin Pietersen and Barmy Army had insisted on continuing with the Indian tour during 2008 terror attack on Mumbai. It had contributed a lot in restoring confidence in our country. I'm reproducing here what the Barmy Army had said at that time: ""We all intend to go ahead with our trip to Mumbai. If the fans can go, so should the players. It is worth remembering that just after the 7/7 attacks in 2005, we sat at Lord's watching England play. I hope everything is done to make this tour happen, not just for our fans but for everyone in Mumbai." Thanks for that support and I offer my heart felt wishes to London and its riot-hit citizens for a speedy recovery.

  • Adi on August 10, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    When the Mumbai tragedy happened England were in the eastern part of India, far off from Mumbai and actually went to Dubai. The matches were postponed, rescheduled and played on a later date, and as they say the rest is history.

    Cynic that I am, I just think it is highly unlikely that, if there was an unprecedented riot say in Kolkata no way would England, Australia, SA or New Zealand, stay back in Kolkata and actually play a test match there.

  • Srinivas on August 10, 2011, 4:46 GMT

    If situation isn't under control (police and law enforcement authorities should confirm this one way or the other), then the match can be postponed or changed to a different venue. Where does bravery and cowardice come in all this? Life is much bigger than cricket and there are innocent people suffering in England. Sympathise with them guys instead of hurting them with boorish comments. Tour can be called off if alternate arrangements are not possile. If it isn't safe for cricketers, it will be even worse for the spectators. These are serious responsibility and security issues, don't dilute them with blinkered prejudice. Let us try and heal the wounds of the grief stricken people by playing for them again when the situation and availability of venue etc..are taken care of. England has done so much for us after Mumbai attacks. Have we become so cold to their sufferings now? What a shame! I apologise to all my English brothers and sisters on behalf of my countrymen's poor comments.

  • Dummy4 on August 10, 2011, 2:33 GMT

    Glad it was not cancelled. I think it's great that the Indian team stayed on and played. England has done the same before in India and it is our time to reciprocate and stand up against mindless violence and rioting to show that Londoners will now bow to the rioters.

    Well done! And now on with the game please!

  • Hollis on August 9, 2011, 23:55 GMT

    Good to see that the game will be played. That is a victory for test cricket . Now both teams need to show these hooligans in the minority where the battle should be. I can't see India rebounding by any stretch of the imagination, but lets hope this test is exciting as the past two and the game is played in the true spirit as Dhoni has set, and is incident free. I doubt the looters will go after the bats and other gears. But hear what guys, keep your helmets on ... for the English fast bowlers !

  • Clive on August 9, 2011, 20:01 GMT

    I'm ashamed of what is happening in some British cities, but there are some ludicrous comments on here. On the last tour of India, England actually went back to India after the appalling terrorist incident there. England stayed on after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, and even won the series from behind. No England tour of India has been cancelled (except when India tried to dictate that Gooch could not captain a tour to India in 1988), although individuals have sometimes withdrawn (wrongly, in my view).

  • Allan on August 9, 2011, 19:12 GMT

    Given the choke-hold in which Englend have India, cancellation of tomorrow's test is tantamount to wishful thinking. Had the scenario been the reverse, that's a different matter.

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