Abu Dhabi:A full strength England cricket team will on Monday return to India to play Tests after getting the final go-ahead from their security experts, ending days of speculation on the fate of the series, which was in doubt following the terror attacks in Mumbai.
England and Wales Cricket Board's security adviser Reg Dickason, in his much-awaited report, declared India safe for the players, late last night paving the decks for the resumption of cricketing activities which had been interrupted due to Mumbai attacks.
The Kevin Pietersen-led team will fly out to Chennai in two batches ending speculation that senior players Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison were uncertain to tour India.
The England players, who were camping here to prepare for the series, were given a detailed feedback on the security arrangements that would be put in place for the series, scheduled to begin in Chennai from December 11.
The fate of Mohali as the venue for second Test will, however, be decided after Dickason inspects the arrangements there on Monday.
After nearly two hours of discussions at the team hotel here involving players, ECB's managing director Hugh Morris and Professional Cricketers Association (EPCA) Chief Executive Sean Morris and Dickason, it was announced that the Test series would go ahead.
The players were then given some time to make up their minds on whether to travel to India.
"England will resume their tour of India and take a full-strength squad. The players were briefed on the latest security update today before confirming they would return to India and complete the tour which was halted following the terror attacks in Mumbai," said a statement issued by the ECB late last night.
"It's a brave and courageous decision that will be respected around the world," Hugh Morris said.
"We've had a lot of discussions with the players following a number of security information audits we've had from the very highest levels of government and our own security team.
"Following the meeting we have had this evening, we confirm that the England team will be travelling to Chennai in the next 24 hours to play in the first Test match against India.
"It has been a very difficult situation, a very emotional, sensitive time for everybody and it has been hard for the players to come to this decision but they all have, and we are looking forward to the challenge of playing India," Morris said.
Earlier, Dickason, Hugh and Sean Morris arrived here from Chennai and briefed the players at team hotel.
Dickason has already inspected the stadium and hotel in Chennai, the venue of the first Test, and had detailed discussions on the security arrangements with BCCI and police officials.
Hugh and Sean Morris had reached Chennai yesterday to inspect the arrangements before taking a final decision on the tour.
The BCCI and police officials have promised to put a fool-proof security set-up in place for the team and support staff during the tour.
The trio would inspect Mohali, which hosts the second Test starting December 19, this week.
In a bid to salvage the tour, the BCCI had come out with a revised itinerary choosing Chennai and Mohali as the new venues instead of Ahmedabad and terror-hit Mumbai. The three-day warm-up match against Board President's XI in Vadodara was also cancelled.
Soon after the recce in Chennai, Dickason had virtually given the green signal to the southern metropolis as the venue for the first Test, saying the organisers had addressed all his concerns.
As part of the security arrangements, central access control system will be installed at the vantage points, at the players' viewing area and also at the team hotel.
The players, upon their arrival in Chennai, will be advised to restrict themselves to the hotel area only.
The Tamil Nadu police will also provide extra security at the stadium, which will be more than the usual, and the players protection by the security staff will be watertight.