Hussain asks for an early ruling on India tour

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The Independent Online

Hussain Hussain is to travel to Lord's within hours of his return from Zimbabwe for discussions about whether England's tour to India should take place. Hussain, expressing public concern for the first time about the potential dangers facing his team, insists the players' views will have a significant bearing on the final decision.

Such is the treadmill of modern international cricket that, as soon as one series ends, thoughts turn immediately to the next venture. On this occasion, there are global issues to be considered. The dilemma over whether England's current tour to Zimbabwe should go ahead was a mainly moral one, but here safety is the overriding concern. And there is no doubt several players are apprehensive about travelling to a country that neighbours Pakistan and is so close to Afghanistan.

Hussain says the England and Wales Cricket Board must make an early decision because continued doubt will undermine his players' preparation. Hussain said: "I'm going to the ECB offices at Lord's on Monday to pick the squads for the one-day series in India and New Zealand in the New Year. But there's no doubt that, while I'm there, I'll pop upstairs into another office to discuss the India tour.

"I think we should be clear about this – you can't make a decision whether to travel a week or two before a Test match tour. Players need to know well in advance so they can get their bodies and minds fully prepared. I'd like to see everything sorted out shortly after this group of players returns from Zimbabwe.

"I'm sure the ECB are seriously reviewing the situation, although I've not been in touch with them. The current problems are affecting sports all over the world – and each is deciding what to do. Cricket must do the same. I believe the players should have a lot of input. The final decision won't just be left to the administrators and it won't just be left to the players. The question we must ask is: Do we know whether it will be 100 per cent safe?"

England are due to leave for their three-Test series on 14 November and return on Christmas Eve. They fly back to India in mid-January for five one-day internationals before travelling on to New Zealand.

The current advice from the Foreign Office is for Britons in India to keep a low profile, which would not exactly be easy for a cricket team playing in packed grounds.

The new World Test Championship will be sent further into disarray should the tour be cancelled. England would go in search of alternative cricket, although their options are limited because most other Test-playing nations are already committed.

England will today attempt to complete a 5-0 series victory in the final one-day international against Zimbabwe. Hussain says most objectives – a comprehensive win, the emergence of some young players and a limited-overs learning curve – have been achieved. He said: "This is the first time Duncan Fletcher and myself have had the chance to sit down with the boys for three weeks and concentrate completely on one-day cricket. The games are normally tagged on at the end of a Test series."

Chris Silverwood will have a fitness test on his back in the morning, when England will announce their final XI. Hussain's calf strain will also be tested.

ENGLAND (from): N Hussain (Essex, capt), M E Trescothick (Somerset), N V Knight (Warwickshire), M R Ramprakash (Surrey), G P Thorpe (Surrey), A Flintoff (Lancashire), B C Hollioake (Surrey), J N Snape (Gloucestershire), J S Foster (Essex, wkt), R J Kirtley (Sussex), M J Hoggard (Yorkshire), A P Grayson (Essex), B(Middlesex), C E W Silverwood (Yorkshire), R J Sidebottom (Yorkshire), P D Collingwood (Durham).

ZIMBABWE (from): A D R Campbell (capt), A Flower (wkt), G B Brent, S V Carlisle, D Ebrahim, G W Flower, G J Whittall, M L Nkala, D P Viljoen, C B Wishart, D Hondo, M Mbangwa.

Umpires: C Coventry and G Evans.

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