Cricket: Board keeps eye on A team's tour destinations

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The Independent Online
England officials will continue monitoring the troubled situations in Kenya and Sri Lanka before deciding whether this winter's A tour should go ahead at the turn of the year.

The 18-strong party, including the coach, Mike Gatting, and the manager, Graham Gooch, and led by the Warwickshire opener Nick Knight, are due to depart for two weeks' preparation in Kenya on 30 December before a two-month stay in Sri Lanka.

Both venues have suffered internal conflict recently, with Kenya's preparations for elections in December being disrupted while eight British tourists were injured in a bomb blast at a Colombo hotel this week.

Although the England and Wales Cricket Board are concerned over the safety of their tourists, they will delay making a decision until nearer departure.

Simon Pack, the ECB's international teams director, stressed: "The England and Wales Cricket Board are continuing to plan and prepare for the England A tour to Kenya and Sri Lanka.

"As is normal practice, we are liaising closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office concerning the local security situation, and they will let us know if it develops in such a way that it causes the ECB to change its plans."

England are particularly keen to continue their A team tours, because they provide a proven production line into the Test team, with three of last year's party to Australia - Dean Headley, Adam Hollioake and Mark Butcher - having graduated to the senior side for this winter's Caribbean tour.

The A trip also gives England an opportunity to call on players who are already match-fit should any injuries arise in the West Indies rather than bring out replacements who have not played for several months.