'Brave' England earn respect
The England team’s collective decision to resume their tour of India was showered with praise from their boss as they prepared to return to the country.
Hugh Morris, managing director of England cricket and the man accountable for their performances, believes the 15-man party have made a mark on the game from outside the boundary.
Despite reservations remaining within the squad throughout their three-day training camp in the United Arab Emirates, it was decided that Kevin Pietersen’s team would move on from their halfway house this afternoon.
The first Test in Chennai will go ahead as planned on Thursday - two weeks after the terrorist attacks rocked Mumbai - while a security check on the scheduled second-Test venue Mohali will take place in the next 72 hours.
“I said right from the word go that we wouldn’t be twisting people’s arms up their backs,” said Morris. “It says a lot for the solidarity of the team that everybody is going to go across.
“Every now and again sportsmen and women have the chance to do something beyond their performances on the field.
“For very tragic reasons, the England team have that opportunity. They have made a very brave, a very courageous decision and one which will be really respected right across the world.”
Coach Peter Moores’ hope that all of the team’s frontline players would resume the trip was realised at a lengthy security briefing - confirmation arrived at 10.50pm local time last night.
Of the original party, only the injured Ryan Sidebottom stays away; he was yesterday replaced by uncapped Kent paceman Amjad Khan.
Morris, his namesake Sean Morris, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, and the England and Wales Cricket Board’s security advisor Reg Dickason arrived at the team hotel shortly after 8pm following their last-minute checks on Chennai.
The players have attempted to put off-field concerns out of their heads while preparing at the three-day Emirates camp.
But they took their opportunity to quiz their bosses and Australian Dickason during a one-and-a-half-hour meeting, which began with a presentation on safety implementations.
Talks adjourned for 45 minutes for individuals to mull over their personal decisions before a unanimous verdict was delivered.
“In the situation I would have been absolutely amazed if there weren’t any questions,” Hugh Morris added.
“We invited questions, which we answered openly and honestly, and the players made decisions based on those answers.
“Ultimately the safety and security report prepared by our team was ratified by the board, so we were going to be sending a team over there.”
When the England party returned to the UK only hours after the final two one-day internationals were scrapped, a resumption of the tour appeared unlikely but the players displayed a willingness to show solidarity with their opponents by returning to the halfway house of Abu Dhabi.
Both Hugh and Sean Morris then continued their transit to India on Friday to assess the situation with Dickason.
“I am pleased the security advisor has been able to give them the advice that enables them to go,” Hugh Morris reflected.
“It is a massively challenging decision for senior players who stood up and clearly took a lot of responsibility.
“Hats off to them - the youngsters listened to them - listened to us and followed as a group. It shows a genuine team bond there.
“There are a lot of characters in that dressing room and quite rightly they challenged the reports as you would in an open environment.”
Stuart Broad, who has been recovering from a minor hamstring tear, meets up with his colleagues this evening, a party which will include Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who travels despite not being officially listed in the 15-man squad.