A C Smith, the chief executive of the Test and County Cricket Board, intimated last week that England's 1995 bid was all but home and dry, but timid compliance is a long way from being one of the opposition's national characteristics, and the South Africans yesterday persuaded the International Cricket Conference to listen to their counter-offer.
As there appears to be something in the ICC constitution stating that the next best thing to never having to make a decision is putting one off as long as possible, the result of this contest - due to be announced yesterday morning - may not now be known until January next year.
England's case yesterday was presented on the grounds that they were promised the World Cup on the recently established 'rota' principle. South Africa's was that they were not ICC members when this was agreed, and, in any event, having staged no World Cups to England's three, did this not make them next on the rota?
The ICC membership were sufficiently split yesterday for them to decide that they needed more time, particularly in view of a 12- team format as opposed to the nine of this year, and both countries will be asked to submit renewed bids by 1 December.
Effectively, it now boils down to cash and facilities, and the TCCB will be more than a touch worried about coming second on both counts. The South Africans have a bottomless purse when it comes to chasing international sporting prestige, and their grounds are not only bigger, but no fewer than seven are floodlit.
The ICC is also considering further disciplinary action against Intikhab Alam, the Pakistani team manager, who repeated his allegations of 'rude and insulting behaviour' against umpire Roy Palmer on the last day of the Old Trafford Test.
Conrad Hunte, the stand-in referee, has referred it to the ICC chairman, Sir Colin Cowdrey, as a further breach of code of conduct regulations prohibiting public comment. Not allowing interested parties the right to speak is a pretty crass rule (albeit not as crass as Intikhab's claim that his players did nothing wrong) but it has none the less been broken.
Intikhab already has been 'severely reprimanded' for his original comments, and it is now odds- on the ICC getting really tough and giving him a very severe reprimand.
NatWest Trophy reports,
Scoreboard, page 31Reuse content