London:BCCI vice-President Lalit Modi was on Friday chastised by the British media for suggesting that England's cricketers should return to India for next month's Test series despite their heightened security fears in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks.
England abandoned the one-dayers, calling off the last two games of the seven-match series, due to the deadly terror strikes in Mumbai which left over 100 dead.
Modi, who is also the commissioner of the cash-rich Indian Premier League, had stated yesterday that he was confident about Kevin Pietersen and Co returning for next month's two Test matches, one of which is scheduled in Mumbai.
The comments were denounced by the media here with wide-selling tabloid 'The Daily Mail' describing him as "crass and insensitive".
"It is highly unlikely England will return whatever the cost to the ECB's relationship with the Indian board and, specifically, Lalit Modi, the Indian administrator who pulls the strings here. He had earlier shown crass insensitivity by announcing that the series would go ahead as new explosions were taking place in Mumbai.
"It was as if the Indian administrator who is taking over the game was determined to make it as difficult as possible for England to make their escape, as if his insensitivity in proclaiming to Sky and the BBC that the tour must go ahead was intended to cause maximum disruption to England and the man he has very much under his thumb, ECB chairman Giles Clarke," the 'Daily Mail' said.
The 'Daily Telegraph' was equally scathing in its criticism of Modi calling him a "single-minded character".
"Lalit Modi, the most powerful man in Indian cricket, set the agenda yesterday with his blithe assurances that the Test series would go ahead regardless. Modi is a single-minded character who does not like to see anyone or anything disrupting his plans, not even a human disaster on the scale of the one unfolding in Mumbai," said 'The Daily telegraph'.
"It seems unlikely, however, that Modis confident predictions will have gone down too well with the England players. The tourists were so surprised by his comments that they immediately called a new team meeting," the daily added in a stinging criticism.
The newspaper said Modi's only agenda seems to be protecting his brain-child IPL from the financial after-effects of the terror strikes.
"Modi's first priority will be to make sure that the terrorist atrocities of the last two days do not burst the Indian Premier League bubble. If he can get the England players back out again before Christmas, it will do something to assuage the fears of the many overseas players due to return to the IPL next season," the newspaper said.
"If not, there is a genuine danger that India could join Pakistan on the list of no-go destinations," it stated.
'The Guardian' said the millions that are stake will ensure that the show goes on despite the tragedy.
"Lucrative deals have made Indian officials determined to resume play in 2009 after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Powerful figures within the Board of Control for Cricket in India also have a stake in the matter. It appears that the ugly face of urban terror will not stop it, not with all those millions at stake," the paper said.
'The Independent', however, praised Modi for being sensitive for once.
"Modi, who is the most single important and influential cricket administrator in the world, was at his most conciliatory and gracious yesterday and he was quite obviously shaken and moved by what had happened," it said.