England to donate funds for victims

Chennai, December 9:

England will donate half their match fees from the first Test against India to the families of victims of last month’s attacks in Mumbai, batsman Alastair Cook said on Tuesday.

England flew here yesterday to resume the tour that was interrupted by the attacks on November 26 that left 172 dead and more than 300 wounded.

A team meeting on Tuesday decided to pledge fees of around $52,000 to the victims, Cook said after reading from a prepared statement at the Chidambaram Stadium. “Following a very difficult period for the last two weeks, the England cricket team would like to recognise the following reasons for returning to India for the Test series,” the statement began.

“As an open and public statement of support for the Indian people following the tragic events in Mumbai recently. To extend our sincerest sympathies to those families that have lost loved ones in the Mumbai attacks. As cricketers, first and foremost is to win a Test series against India. Finally, the England players will donate half their match fees from the first Test match to the families of those victims.”

Cook added: “We have made a massive pact this morning at our meeting when we came up with the statement that this is it and nothing else can distract us from playing cricket. It was something that everyone wanted to get across because as a side we felt we wanted to do it,” he said. England had flown home on November 28 after cancelling the last two matches of a seven-game one-day series, which India won 5-0.

They agreed to return for the two-Test series, after a brief stopover in Abu Dhabi, following security checks by the England and Wales Cricket Board. The first Test starts here on Thursday, while the second will be played in Mohali from December 19.