India threaten to retaliate if England call off winter tour

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The Independent Online

As the England and Wales Cricket Board waits on the faltering five – Andy Caddick, Robert Croft, Ashley Giles, Craig White and Marcus Trescothick – to make up their minds about whether to join the tour party to India, perceptible shifts are taking place.

But if the will he, won't he saga of England's quintet has moved little, the biggest stir comes from Calcutta, where Jagmohan Dalmiya, the president of India's Board of Control for Cricket, has again threatened retributions if England cancel their visit.

Quoted in India's The Newspaper, Dalmiya, who rarely passes an excuse to rattle his sabre, was typically forthright in his views. "If England cancel their tour, we will have to reconsider our trip to England in June next year," he said.

Dalmiya, who is preparing to receive John Carr, the operations manager of the ECB, when he and the players' representative, Tim O'Gorman, arrive for security talks later this week, was also critical of the prevarication by both the ECB and the England players.

"I spoke to the ECB officials yesterday and I made it clear that their fears about security issues in India should not be further raised in the media," added Dalmiya. "This is earning a bad name for our country."

The recently re-elected president of the BCCI was adamant, too, that England should declare their full squad, claiming that any further delay after 5 November would cause "administrative and logistical problems".

Dalmiya may be right but, as anyone who has played in India knows, organisation is very much last-minute, with cricket stands still being built and painted the night before a Test match. Security will no doubt be similar, a point which suggests Carr's trip is purely cosmetic.

Yesterday, an ECB spokesman said the Board was looking for a decision from the wavering players "a bit sooner than Guy Fawkes night", though no absolute deadline has been given.

Reading the tea leaves, and the various snippets of gossip, the most likely of the five to join the 11 "affirmatives" is Trescothick, although, as the player himself revealed in his Sunday newspaper column, his mind has changed almost by the hour.

A player with ambition, as well as a sense of duty towards his captain and team-mates, Trescothick knows that any captaincy aspirations he might have for the future will suffer were he to stay at home. If the Somerset man does go, there will be no trip for David Fulton, the Kent opener who yesterday confirmed he had been placed on standby with three other players. Of the remaining prevaricators, all of whom have young families, Craig White is most likely to be on the plane, although both he and Ashley Giles, after a summer of injury problems, still have to pass fitness tests on 7 November, just six days before the tour starts.

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