ON A STICKY WICKET; 1) Grim Outlook: Kevin Pietersen, Selector Ashley Giles and Andrew Flintoff Confer during England's Curtailed Practice Yesterday 2) Ring of Steel: Indian Security Guards the Chennai
Byline: PAUL NEWMAN
HE ENSURED that up to 5,000 police and soldiers will guard England here and keep them as safe possible, but Reg Dickason the man whose security recommendations salvaged a Test series overlooked a crucial factor. He forgot to stop it raining.
The elements restricted England's first, and penultimate, practice session ahead of the first Test to two hours yesterday and more heavy rain is expected in Chennai today and tomorrow.
One pessimistic forecast even suggested a cyclone is about to hit this southern Indian city.
It is almost as if the gods have decided that they do not want this series to go ahead after all.
The Chepauk Stadium was a grim sight yesterday and not just because an open sewer runs around the ground. Rain fell on the massed guards of India's Rapid Action Force, the country's paramilitary elite police, as they stood, stern-faced and heavily armed, all around the outfield.
Agitated ground officials became increasingly flustered as the Press tried to get a look at the pitch and conduct interviews ahead of a first Test that was moved here from Ahmedabad and starts tomorrow.
Once in the middle, it was clear the groundsman has not had enough time to prepare his Test pitch because of the late switch of venues and the weather. So how it will play, at a ground known for flat wickets and draws, is anyone's guess presuming the match actually starts tomorrow.
In the circumstances, it was hardly surprising that Kevin Pietersen had a weary look when he escaped his man-markers for a while to look ahead to a game for which England are woefully underprepared.
'This security is probably what it's going to be like for tours on the sub-continent for at least the rest of my career,' said the England captain as he looked out of the team bus which had been converted to a Press conference venue to get us away from the gunmen. 'But the people have been brilliant. Everything we've asked for has been put in place.'
Yes, England are here and deserve credit for issuing a dignified statement of support for the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks and for the gesture of donating half their match fees from the first Test, around [pounds sterling]35,000, to families of the victims. …