Wednesday, 10 August 2011

‘Test can give riot-hit England a lift’

 England captain Andrew Strauss insisted he had no qualms about playing the third Test against India at Edgbaston following a night of rioting in Birmingham. Players from both sides opted to remain in their hotels as rioters and looters took to the streets of England's 'second city' on Monday following three days of similar disorder in London.

But Strauss, who said his team had been told by their security manager it was "100 percent safe" for them to play the third Test, said the match should start as scheduled on Wednesday despite the riots.
The Football Association reacted by calling off England's international friendly against the Netherlands, scheduled for Wednesday at Wembley Stadium in north London.
"Let's divorce the cricket match from what is going on in the country which is clearly not our proudest hour as a country right at the moment," Strauss said at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
"You can divorce the two. I think this is an opportunity for cricket to maybe put a feelgood factor into the newspapers and show that not everything is bad out there at the moment. It hasn't really affected our preparation," he added. "When you watch these scenes on the television, it's horrific and it's far from England's proudest moment. But we fully intend to play the game as we would any other game."

However, while providing security for players in the controlled environment of a cricket ground during daylight hours is one thing, concerns have been raised about the safety of spectators travelling to and from the ground.
New Street railway station is in Birmingham's city centre, where much of the violence took place on Monday, and there are fears about what might happen to fans making their way back there from a day's play if there are fresh riots.
"That's what the authorities are there for, they decide on how they steward and police a Test match," Strauss said. "They've got their decisions to make as to how best to do that."
Strauss, recalling his experiences of Monday night, added: "We got some advice from our security manager (Reg Dickason) to come back to the hotel as there were some disturbances going on in the city centre.
"From then on, you could see the odd police car going back and forth but otherwise we were quite isolated from what was going on and it hasn't really affected us much at all to be honest."
Strauss said the team had never thought the Test would be called off. "We've been given no indication the game isn't going ahead so it's right for us to prepare as we normally would."
England briefly came back from India in 2008 following the Mumbai terror attacks before returning to complete their tour. "The way we've always looked upon these sorts of circumstances is that our security manager is there for a reason," Strauss said.
"He's got to determine whether it's safe for us to go on tour or play any game of cricket. So far he's said it's 100 percent safe and you should always go on their advice. That was certainly the advice we took when we went back to India after the terrorist attacks. We don't feel unsafe (in Birmingham)."
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who indicated his side were happy to play the game, said he would leave it to the "concerned authorities" to decide if it went ahead. "We are cricketers, not professional guys who know about security, so let's leave it to them," he said.
"The best thing for us to do is prepare well for the game."
Meanwhile Strauss said England had been told to avoid the city centre on Tuesday but added he had no worries about the side being cooped up in their hotel. "There are bigger problems out there than worrying about whether we have our latte out in Birmingham or not. I'm sure we will be fine."

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