Cricket: England tour plans clouded by violence

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Board President's XI . . . . . . . . . . . . .223 and 107-1

England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .307-9

Match drawn

ENGLAND shook hands on a draw for the second time on tour here yesterday - but one or two other opposing factions away from the cricket field appear to have no such inclination, and there are few things more drawn in India at the moment than the faces of Graham Gooch's tourists.

Five days from now, England are due to play a one-day international in Ahmadabad, which you would struggle to find in the summer holiday brochures at the best of times, never mind at the moment. The current wave of religious violence that has its origins in the destruction of the Ayodyha Mosque by Hindu extremists shows no signs of diminishing, and there is less likelihood of bumping into your friendly neighbourhood bobby in Ahmadabad than several members of the Indian Army.

The city is under curfew, a number of people have died near the team's hotel there over the past few days, and the situation is even worse elsewhere. In Bombay, the military has been ordered to shoot curfew breakers 'on sight'.

England have two options for travelling on this tour; by train, one of which was the object of a fatal terrorist bomb attack near Delhi three days ago, or by plane, one of which (Soviet-built and on hire during the Indian Airlines strike) was destroyed after crashing at Delhi airport on Friday.

Two of England's poorer fliers, Philip Tufnell and Robin Smith, asked if they could return to Delhi from Lucknow today by rail. This request has, however, been turned down, apparently on the grounds that it would cause them to miss net practise this morning.

Ahmadabad has one of the worst records of violence on the sub-continent, and a general strike called by Hindus for next Monday will do little to alleviate the tension there. In view of this, it is something of an eyebrow raiser to hear Bob Bennett, the tour manager, slipping neatly into the Indian custom of offering a 'no problem' when all around is chaos.

Bennett has been in contact with the British High Commission in Delhi over the past few days, and yesterday repeated Saturday's statement that there were no plans not to go to Ahmadabad. He said the 'situation was under constant review' but 'security had been reassuring without being obtrusive'.

It is difficult for 5,000 armed police to look unobtrusive, but Bennett none the less added that the 'team is in good heart and looking forward to a full and successful tour'. It is just conceivable that he was speaking for the majority of the team, but some would prefer to clear off out of it, and not everyone has toed the party line. Smith has been quoted as saying: 'We have been told that the security in Ahmadabad has been doubled, but I have a wife and family at home, and if the situation gets any worse the authorities must put the safety of the players first, even if it means calling off the tour.'

However, it is less likely that the tour will be called off (at least at this stage) than it is that Smith will find himself in the headmaster's study for what will be construed as rocking the boat. Hopefully, though, the management will concern themselves with weightier issues, such as whether or not taking the team to Ahmadabad borders on the irresponsible.

Bennett, while admitting that 'everyone was concerned' by the unrest, is content to be guided by the High Commission in Delhi, and he will also be meeting the secretary of the Indian Cricket Board on Tuesday. He ought to know by now that if he hears the magic words 'no problem' it is time to pull the plug on Ahmadabad.

In more mundane matters, such as the cricket, the highlight of a match destined for a draw was Mike Gatting's first century for England since his unbeaten 150 against Pakistan at The Oval in 1987. Gatting played beautifully for his 115 as he and Gooch put on 131 for England's first wicket.

It was Gatting's 73rd first-class century, subject of course to ratification by the International Cricket Council. The ICC's decision to postpone its original decision on the validity of the hundred Gooch made on the 1981-82 South African Breweries tour until 2 February is par for the course.

Gooch fell 23 runs short of either his 99th or 100th century on Saturday, stumped while attempting to sweep the leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani, and no less than four other batsmen (Gatting, Neil Fairbrother, Chris Lewis and John Emburey) perished to the same shot yesterday. Graeme Hick was lbw offering no stroke, and Hick, Fairbrother, Smith, Lewis and Alec Stewart have scored only 67 runs between them in 10 completed innings.

As for the bowling, Paul Taylor went some way towards justifying his selection with five wickets on Saturday, and Tufnell looks to be rediscovering his rhythm after a poor first game. However, Emburey must be pondering on the advisability of old dogs learning new tricks. His new attacking style resulted in nine of his deliveries ending up in the section of the crowd over long-on and heartening though it is to see Emburey giving it more flight, his highest trajectory in this game came after the ball had left the bat.

(Third day of three: President's XI won toss)

PRESIDENT'S XI - First Innings 223 for 9 (V G Kambli 61, N R Mongia 55, J P Taylor 5-46)

ENGLAND - First Innings (Overnight: 168 for 3) M W Gatting b Maninder Singh. . . . . . . . . . . 115 P A J DeFreitas c Sharma b Hirwani. . . . . . . . .45 G A Hick lbw b Maninder Singh. . . . . . . . . . . 12 N H Fairbrother b Chauhan. . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 C C Lewis b Chauhan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 J E Emburey lbw b Maninder Singh. . . . . . . . . .20 J P Taylor not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 P C R Tufnell not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Extras (b16 lb6) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Total (for 9 dec, 102 overs). . . . . . . . . . . 307 Fall (cont): 4-226 5-252 6-265 7-265 8-296 9-298.

Bowling: Viadya 10-1-31-0; Ankola 17-5-39-0; Chauhan 16-4-57-2; Maninder Singh 32-10-80-3; Hirwani 27-4-78-4.

BOARD PRESIDENT'S XI - Second Innings

S S Bahve c and b Tufnell. . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 N S Sidhu not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 R Dravid not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 Extras (nb5). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Total (for 1, 42 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . .107 Fall: 1-29.

Did not bat: S A Ankola, V G Kambli, A Sharma, N R Mongia, R Chauhan, N D Hirwani, P S Viadya, Maninder Singh.

Bowling: DeFreitas 7-3-8-0; Lewis 5-1-5-0; Tufnell 12- 4-24-1; Taylor 6-0-25-0; Emburey 8-1-36-0; Hick 4-1-9-0.

MATCH DRAWN

Haynes fined, page 31

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