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 took to the streets of England’s ‘second city’ following three days of similar disorder in London. But Strauss, who said his team had been told by their security manager it was ‘100 per cent safe’ for them to play the third Test, said it was important that both the teams take the field today despite the volatile situation.
“Let us divorce the cricket from what’s going on in the country which is clearly not our proudest hour at the moment,” said Strauss. “ I think this is an opportunity for cricket to put a feel-good factor and show that not everything is bad out there at the moment.
“It has not really affected our preparation. We fully intend to play the game as we would any other game.”
England look to seal series
Meanwhile, the hosts head into the Test knowing that a win will give them an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the series, and will see them replace India at the top of the Test rankings.
However, Strauss was not about to abandon the pragmatic approach that has served him so well of late.
“All we are looking to do is turn up at Edgbaston and try and win that match,” he said.
England go into the match without Jonathan Trott, while India will miss their two most experienced bowlers, left-armer Zaheer Khan and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, although swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag will be making a welcome comeback to the team.
England fast-bowler James Anderson, who has played a leading role for his team in the series so far, felt that Khan’s absence will be a big blow for the tourists, who have struggled with the ball for most of the series.
“Zaheer will be a big loss as he is the leader of their attack, he’s such a skilful bowler,” he added.
‘Too much cricket hurting us’
Meanwhile India captain MS Dhoni rued the fact that too much cricket has left his team mentally as well as physically exhausted, as back-to-back series against West Indies and England have taken a toll.
“It is a mental thing as well because for some of us it has been a seven-match Test series with hardly any gap,” lamented Dhoni.
Meanwhile, few England fans would begrudge seeing India great Sachin Tendulkar become the first batsman to score 100 international centuries, after he failed in the first two Tests.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2011.