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.

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