Nasser HussainHow far is Mumbai from Malegaon? Roughly 285 km, the distance between London and Sheffield. For the English cricket community, it became the distance between reality and perception.In the controversy over the England team’s tour of India this winter, British newspapers made Malegaon a suburb of Mumbai, and the,Nasser HussainHow far is Mumbai from Malegaon? Roughly 285 km, the distance between London and Sheffield. For the English cricket community, it became the distance between reality and perception.In the controversy over the England team’s tour of India this winter, British newspapers made Malegaon a suburb of Mumbai, and the entire country too close to Afghanistan for cricket’s comfort.The fuss dragged on for as long as the war, ending last week when 14 of the original 16 selected agreed to tour. The controversy played out in the British media distracted the Indian board from shouting at its team in South Africa, and ensured that the image of English cricket slipped back to one of moaning tourists out of touch with the rest of the world.TOURING SCARS: Andy Caddick (left) and Robert Croft’s pullout has led to grumbling, adding to Nasser Hussain’s woesJohn Carr, director of cricket operations, England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Tim O’Gorman, Professional Cricketers’ Association representative, and Peter Holland, first secretary, British High Commission, Delhi, travelled to Kolkata last week seeking reassurances about security.Every cricket team travelling to India has plainclothes Special Branch officers and uniformed policemen, an exclusive protection force of about 30 men, attached to it. When the three Englishmen met BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya, there were indications they talked about higher security-including, sources say, Black Cat commandos.Dalmiya insists security was hardly discussed during the Kolkata meeting but it’s not likely the Englishmen merely indulged in polite chitchat over tea. Specially since the BCCI chief had played a key role in forcing the ECB’s hand.advertisementThe decision to tour was prompted by a round of cricket diplomacy, Dalmiya style. When he heard of English reluctance to tour for fear of being caught in “anti-American riots” and general “civil unrest”, Dalmiya marched into the International Cricket Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur, threatening to “reconsider” India’s reciprocal tour of England next year.The ECB did a U-turn, invited British High Commissioner in India Rob Young to Lord’s to give the team the lowdown about life in the wild east. When five players dragged their feet over a final decision, Dalmiya spelt out a deadline of November 5. The ECB’s letter of confirmation was in the BCCI’s office in Mumbai on October 31.THREE’S COMPANY: (From left) Tim O’Gorman, John Carr and Peter Holland meet Jagmohan Dalmiya in KolkataThe England squad will arrive with some trepidation. It is learnt that coach Duncan Fletcher had “severe reservations” about touring, staying put at home in South Africa and making no attempt to persuade his players to make the trip. He has neither called for his customary pre-tour meeting nor put out his training schedule.Fast bowler Andy Caddick, who pulled out, is a reluctant traveller at best. Robert Croft’s decision not to tour was met with much head-shaking: from Indian batsmen waiting to wade into the Welshman’s brand of off-spin.Croft has played 21 Tests in five years and never bowled at Indian batsmen. It appeared that the only Englishman who was more than eager for the tour to be held was captain Nasser Hussain’s father Jawad. Hussain senior said that it was a family dream to have their son captain an England team in India.