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England should go back to India for Tests, say former captains

November 29, 2008 17:38 IST

Former captains Bob Willis and David Gower have joined Ian Botham and Mike Atherton in urging the English team to return to India and play the two-Test series next month.

Willis and Gower backed the decision to abandon the one-day series but felt if England do not return to India for the two Tests the same treatment could be meted out to them by visiting sides when such a situation arises in the country.

"If India is deemed safe before first Test in Ahmedabad on December 11 and the second in Chennai, they should go and play. Otherwise no one will come to England -- teams will say we are as much a terrorist target as any country. I hope that within a fortnight, things will have settled down," he said.

On Friday, former captains Ian Botham and Mike Atherton had urged England and Wales Cricket Board to continue the Test series scheduled to start on December 11 in Ahmedabad.

 England-India ODIs cancelled

Willis gave an example of the England squad, including himself, continuing to tour India in 1984-85 when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.

"England players stayed on in 1984-85 when Mrs Gandhi and Percy Norris, the deputy British High Commissioner, were assassinated. But I can understand reluctance of any cricketer to go into areas where there have been terrorist attacks. As Westerners are being targeted, it is sensible for the team to leave," Willis was quoted as saying by 'The Times'.

Skipper of the English squad in that 1984-85 tour, Gower, said, "I would understand if there are doubts about staying on but I would expect that if the players went back to different areas of the country, they would be fine. I would almost suggest that if they go back to Bombay, they would be fine. India will provide full security, even though they will find it hard to get this out of their minds.

"We talked about coming home when Percy Norris was killed -- we had had drinks with him only the night before. But we knew security would be tight enough," Gower said.

Former England spinner Derek Underwood, who is now the President of the Marleybone Cricket Club, also echoed similar feelings and said, "The Tests have been organised and there will be repercussions if we do not play in them. But the security has to be right and I think there is less chance of these matches being played now they are returning home.

"There were riots and the deportation of President Bhutto in my days as a touring player, but we did not have a fear that we were going to be bombed. If I was playing now, I would be pleased to get out."

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