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Dec 10, 2008

England to donate funds for Mumbai victims

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 into this southern city on Monday 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 35,000 pounds (52,000 dollars) 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 to win a Test match series against India.

"Finally, the England players will donate half their match fees from the first Test match to the families of those victims of the Mumbai attacks."

Cook, the team's opening batsman, 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 (ECB).

The first Test starts here on Thursday, while the second will be played in the northern town of Mohali from December 19.

Cook, the Essex left-hander who turns 24 on Christmas Day, said the disrupted tour and the return to India would bond the team together.

"What has happened recently has been taken out of our control but this side has got behind each other and made some tough decisions," he said.

"We are here as a unit now and we have to play some good cricket. The preparation is not ideal."

Cook took heart from the events two years ago when he scored a century on his Test debut in India after being rushed from the England 'A' tour of the West Indies in place of the injured Michael Vaughan.

"I came here two years ago, flying half way around the world and had one training session and then played, so it can be done.

"You don't just suddenly lose your technique overnight.

"I remember turning up for my first Test match and jet lag does not really affect you when you have got adrenalin kicking through your body. If you are mentally switched on you can achieve things and that's what we need to do as a side now."

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