India tour talks continue as decision looms

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The Independent Online

Talks were continuing today to determine whether England will resume their tour of India following the terrorist attacks on Mumbai last week.

England's one-day squad returned home on Saturday while security reports were compiled on the threat to the team if they return for the two-Test series starting on 11 December.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India have already changed the itinerary to the south of the country to reassure the tourists, with the first Test taking place in Chennai while the second Test has been moved from Mumbai to Mohali.

The England and Wales Cricket Board continued discussions this morning with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who will advise them of their own intelligence and allow Lord's officials to make a considered decision.

Security consultant Reg Dickason, who has acted as an advisor to the team for several years, has already flown out to Chennai and his findings will play a key role in England's considerations.

The BCCI's decision to change the itinerary is believed by many to have removed the final stumbling block to England's return, although the delay in making the decision has minimised the amount of preparation they will get should they decide to resume the tour.

"I think the ECB will probably say yes and I think it will be very sad," admitted former ECB chairman Lord MacLaurin.

"I don't think any security people can actually say it's going to be safe. If it was left to me, I wouldn't go."

But MacLaurin, speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, claimed he would have every sympathy if any of the England players decided they did not want to return.

"I don't think anybody has a duty to go back," he said.

"These terrorists have specifically targeted British people and American people. I fully understand the England players, especially those with young families, might think this is a step too far."

Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who was born in Mumbai and has a restaurant very close to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - one of the main targets of the terrorist attacks - has revealed he could not sleep when news first came through of the incidents.

Tendulkar, like the rest of the India and England players, was told the horrific news when they returned to their hotel in Bhupeneswar immediately after the fifth one-day international in Cuttack.

"Right after the match, we got to know of the attack and since then I have been disturbed," Tendulkar told the Times of India newspaper.

"I have been tracking the horrific images of mayhem on television. It saddened me to see my countrymen being targeted.

"I couldn't sleep all this time. I am numb, the images keep playing in my head. This was just not an attack on Mumbai - it is an attack on India."