Cricket: England issue warning over crowd disorder

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A TOUR that began with worries about travel arrangements due to an Indian Airlines strike is drawing to a close with England still concerned about flying objects.

While the bad fliers in the team may quiver their disagreement after a troublesome journey here from Jamshedpur yesterday, the chances of suffering an air strike from the madding crowds continue to grow.

So much so that England would consider walking off the field in the two one-day internationals here tomorrow and on Friday if there is a repeat of Devon Malcolm's unpleasant experience when fielding on Tuesday. The England tour management was incensed that a sharpened metal bolt was thrown at Malcolm in the one-day international at Jamshedpur.

The England players may contemplate packing parachutes in their hand luggage after the plane on which they flew from Calcutta to Delhi yesterday hit a bird and sustained a hole in the fuselage that forced an emergency landing with damaged hydraulics. After the pilot had explained the problem the tour party nervously boarded a much smaller plane - their third of the day - to reach Gwalior.

Having arrived, England requested a security meeting today with the Indian Board representatives, the International Cricket Council match referee, Cammie Smith, and the local police. The England team manager, Keith Fletcher, warned: 'The Indian authorities have to do something about this problem because the team will walk off the field and there will be a riot.

'Players should be able to concentrate on the game, and they can't do that if they are being bombarded - especially with dangerous objects. The bolt thrown at Devon just missed his head. It could even have killed him if it had hit him on the temple. This situation is getting worse and yesterday (in Jamshedpur) it was beyond a joke.'

The Indian authorities have promised that measures will be taken, including placing plain clothes police among the crowd. Gwalior, howeverm hardly has an encouraging reputation; in the last international match here, against South Africa 14 months ago, Navjot Sidhu, the Indian batsman, was hit on the head by a lump of concrete thrown from the crowd.

The man hoping to prevent a repeat is the regal Maharajah of Gwalior, Madhavrao Scindia, who is also president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, and the main reason for Gwalior's status as an international venue.

BRUCE REID, the Australian left- arm fast bowler, looks likely to miss this summer's Ashes tour after damaging his left shoulder in a club match in Perth last weekend, the 29-year-old's first game back after missing most of the recent series against the West Indies.