Cricket: Tour to India in jeopardy

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AN UGLY wave of religious violence sweeping across India has placed England's winter tour in jeopardy only three weeks before Graham Gooch's team is due to fly to Delhi.

More than 200 people are reported dead, and hundreds more injured, in the aftermath of Hindu militants demolishing a mosque, and Test and County Cricket Board officials are in contact with the Foreign Office in case the situation deteriorates. Tim Lamb, the chairman of the Board's cricket committee, said last night: 'We are concerned, and the current situation is obviously far from rosy.'

Police shot dead 40 rioters in Bombay yesterday, 21 people were killed in Jaipur and there was a curfew imposed on Calcutta. England are due to play in all three of those cities during their 10-week tour, and they are also scheduled to visit Kanpur, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where the destruction of a 16th-century Moslem shrine set off the nationwide rioting.

If the tour does not go ahead, it will be the second successive cancelled England visit. In 1988, India declined to offer visas to Graham Gooch, the captain, and several other squad members because of their South African connections.

England were unable to find an alternative that winter, and with most of the other cricketing countries engaged, the same would probably be true on this occasion.

It might be possible to extend the Sri Lanka leg of the trip, although that country is far from stable itself. The current series against New Zealand was almost called off a few weeks ago, when a bomb blast in Colombo resulted in six members of the touring side flying home.

Kiwis in a spin,

South Africa successful, page 28