Andrew Flintoff said his decision to tour India for the Test series has nothing to do with his Indian Premier League ambitions and asserted security would not be a distraction for his teammates in the two-Test series starting in Chennai on Thursday.
Flintoff, along with Steve Harmison and Graeme Swann, had reservations about touring India after last month's Mumbai terror attacks but the talismanic all-rounder eventually joined the Test squad and the decision, he says, has nothing to do with IPL.
"There was safety to consider and also whether it was right to be playing in India so soon after Mumbai. I can't vouch for other players but for me the Indian Premier League didn't come into it at all. Safety is far bigger than the IPL," Flintoff told The Daily Telegraph.
"I took time to ring family and think it over myself. It was just a case of digesting it and getting it straight in my mind. We needed to know how the tour was going to take place and, once that was presented to us, we could then decide," he said.
Flintoff's comments came amid reports that the English cricketers shrugged off their reluctance to tour India in order to endear themselves to the IPL authorities.
"One of the reasons I decided to go was for my team-mates. We didn't want to get into the position where the team was split up. Even though we got beaten during the one-day series against India, the spirit in the camp was really good and that's something we don't want to lose. So unity has played a major part," Flintoff said, justifying the decision.
It took lot of persuasion and the promise of a foolproof security arrangement to convince the English cricketers to return to India. Flintoff admitted it would feel different to be surrounded by commandos almost all the time but dismissed suggestions that it could be a distraction for the side.
"The environment is going to be completely different when you talk about commandos and hotels being locked down, but those are the measures they feel we need to take.
"That is going to be a challenge for the lads. A few of us experienced something similar here in 2002 when we had guards everywhere, but hopefully that will wear off pretty quickly," he said.
According to him, everything else would take a back seat when cricket resumes on Thursday.
"Once you're out in the middle bowling at Sachin Tendulkar or trying to hit Harbhajan Singh around, I don't think you'll be worrying about who might be around off the ground," he said.
"I think that will happen more when you're at the hotel or mooching around," Flintoff added.
With the fate of the tour hanging in balance for quite a while, England hardly had the kind of preparation they would have liked but Flintoff still was optimistic of putting up a good show in the two-match series.
"Hopefully we will be inspired," he said.
"The team have made the decision to go and play cricket in India and we want to give a good account of ourselves. These circumstances might make the team tighter and hopefully this can be reflected in the results," added the strapping all-rounder.