In his latest blog, Dave Fulton believes England should only head back home if the threat remains.
Last Updated: 30/11/08 5:33pm
After the terrible terrorist attacks in Mumbai, we watch this space to see whether the eagerly awaited Test series between England and India will go ahead.
At first it seems clear cut: get the England players the hell out of there. Sport, even top-level sport with millions of pounds of revenue at stake, is not worth risking lives for.
But while the sensible decision has been taken to cancel the last two one-day internationals, it makes sense for the England team to lie low and see how the situation develops.
The first Test is not until December 11th and England are safely tucked away at their hotel in Bhubaneswar. If the threat remains then they must return. If there is a chance, however, that their safety can be guaranteed then they need to give serious thought to playing the Test series.
Australia didn't up sticks in 2005 when the London bombings took place on July 7th. They contested a One-Day International against England at Lord's three days later just a few miles up the road. In his tour diary from that year Ricky Ponting, the Australian skipper, recounts July 8th 2005: "I know quite a few players feel that there is an element of inconsistency about our decision to continue with the tour, and I agree with that. If we were in, say, Pakistan or Sri Lanka and something like this had happened, I am sure we would have been on the first plane out."
Ponting makes a valid point and in my opinion it is why all the facts need to be taken into account before a decision is made. It would be all too easy to jump on the first plane but this is not a time for a knee-jerk reaction. But I repeat, if the threat remains, of course they must come home.
Personally I'm a believer that the ECB needs to schedule in a three-month break every other year for the England players. It is sad and ironic that it might take something as evil as terrorism to give the players an extended rest.
England's players have always played too much cricket. We are the only country that plays all the year round because most other countries have their winter months - and therefore time off - during our summer. We need to look at the demands placed on our key players. Of course it is not an argument the players are pushing too hard at the moment because they have been keen to make extra money playing in Stanford week and similarly want to take part in the IPL.
But Pietersen, Flintoff and Broad didn't need an extra week in Antigua chasing dollars when they've been carrying the brunt of England's workload for the last few months. It was a sad sight to see England's brightest hope, Broad, limping off with a hamstring strain towards the end of the match in Cuttack. Sadder still to hear that Flintoff, after all his battles with injury, picked up a niggle, too.
And they don't need extra work crammed into a busy schedule ahead of a key summer for English cricket. Imagine if Flintoff, who has expressed an understandable desire to play in the IPL, gets seriously injured playing in the IPL and misses the Ashes. It does not bear thinking about when he's centrally contracted.
Surely it would be better to create a window in the international calendar and embrace the competition fully the following year.
OK I hear all the arguments about making one rule for one country and not for another but India is the financial super power of the game and by acquiescing to the BCCI we might get some more sensible decisions on things like the Champions League and Indian participation in other Twenty20 tournaments.
Now back to the cricket and England's 5-0 one-day series loss. Let's start by saying well played to India. At home they are a fabulous side and there's no disgrace in losing to a team of their calibre. Let's remember that in England a year ago we beat them 4-3 under Paul Collingwood and that Pietersen's team in India was the same one that beat South Africa convincingly.
That said, we need to learn lessons:
1) Identify and stick with young batsmen who can take on the bowlers at the top of the order making the most of the powerplays. Bell and Cook are very good players but they're not naturally suited to hitting over the top like Sehwag and Tendulkar.
2) Pick our best spinners in spin-friendly conditions because we need to take wickets. If Patel's not going to figure with the bat we should play Panesar. It's different in England where the seamers take most of the wickets and the spinner's there to contain.
3) Learn from the way their seamers - Ishant Sharma in particular - look to hit the deck hard and nip the ball back at the batsman. Our pitch up, away swing guys give the batsmen too much room to use their arms. By bringing the ball back you cramp batsmen for room and bring bowled and LBW into play, which is ideal when wickets don't have the carry of our wickets.
4) Batting order. We need two or three guys to take on the power plays then get our best players in, which means Pietersen and Shah. It's not about whether Shah bats four or six but how much time he has to impact a game. If he comes in at 110-4 in the 15th over England will get 300. He is one of the best when the field relaxes so getting him in around 15-20 overs is ideal.