London:England's decision to tour India within a fortnight of the Mumbai mayhem was not driven by their urge to stand by a terror-stricken country but by a business deal, according to media reports.
Apparently, it took lot of deliberation and persuasion on England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) part to convince Kevin Pietersen and his men to tour India for the two-Test series.
But according to a report in 'The Independent', the joint effort by the ECB and its Indian counterpart BCCI is actually a marriage of convenience and hinged on mutual benefit.
"Let us not be fooled by the idea that this cause is entirely noble," the report said.
"The Board of Control for Cricket in India, sensing how much cricket means to their people, have moved heaven and earth to make the tour possible. But India also have other assets to protect in the form of the Indian Premier League, and England need India on their side to make a success of their own so-called England Premier League starting in 2010.
"There are commercial imperatives at play," it added.
By agreeing to tour India, the report claimed, the players were increasing their stake for the next edition of the cash-awash IPL.
"By going to India now should they ever get there to play two Test matches, England's players will be doing themselves a favour when new multi-million-dollar IPL contracts are handed out in February," it added.
The daily quoted former England captain Tony Greig as saying that had the BCCI failed to host England for the Test series, many foreign players would have developed cold feet and skipped next year's Indian Premier League.
"The Indian authorities are painfully aware of what could happen to their business plan if they don't get England back there now," Greig was quoted as saying.
"If England don't go then there is a distinct probability that many of the foreign players won't turn up for the IPL in the spring, and that would have a dramatic effect," he said.
ECB's eagerness to befriend BCCI is understandable, said Greig, since the England board was facing a potential revolt from its players who are keen to join the IPL.
The move by both the boards to move on after the Mumbai terror attacks also drew flak from the report which said, "So consigned to history is the Mumbai Massacre that those who suggested a period of calm reflection and sober remembrance before whatever passes for normal life resumes have been casually dismissed.
"It is as if that period has already passed. In corporate speak, especially important in this context, it is time to move on."