Cricket: World Cup goes to sub-continent

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The Independent Online
AFTER 13 hours of fraught talks at Lord's that terminated shortly before midnight last night, England finally broke the deadlock at the International Cricket Council meeting by withdrawing their bid to host the sixth World Cup in 1995. This leaves the way open for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka jointly to stage the tournament.

The decision may have far- reaching repercussions. England, one of the two ICC founder members, did not use their veto as they were entitled but ill-advised to do, given the clamour for the removal of the veto. In return for such magnanimity, the Test and County Cricket Board has received a firm promise that England will be the venue for the 1999 event.

'England made the most magnanimous, decent and wonderful gesture to withdraw their bid for the good of international cricket,' the ICC secretary, Colonel John Stephenson, said.

As diplomacy it was a sound move. The balance of power in world cricket may well have shifted but not as far as it might otherwise have done.

At pounds 5m, the bid from the sub- continental trio was only marginally in excess of that offered by England, site of the first three World Cups in 1975, 1979 and 1983, and, according to an informal rota, the TCCB claims, scheduled to stage it again in 1995.

England is generally deemed the most practical alternative because of the comparative lack of travel problems and potential political disturbances.

Indeed, the voting of the nine Test-playing nations is understood to have favoured England by 5-4, but with a two-thirds majority required, the votes of the 19 associate memebers became critical. Recognising the likelihood of an impasse, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka offered each of the 16 associates who failed to qualify for the 12-nation tournament pounds 100,000 - pounds 35,000 more than that proposed by England.

The 1987 World Cup was held in Pakistan and India, where the early start and transport difficulties proved troublesome and the 1995 event will include three associate members for the first time as well as another innovation, a quarter-final stage.

Australia's post-mortem, page 28