ICC to review Zimbabwe's status as host

Andrew Tong
Sunday 12 January 2003 01:00
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The England and Wales Cricket Board might have allowed themselves a slight sigh of relief yesterday as the game's governing body, the International Cricket Council, decided to take another look at their decision to stage six World Cup matches in Zimbabwe.

The possibility of a third-party resolution to the dilemma imposed upon the Board by the British government – that they should not play against the co-hosts in Harare on 13 February in order to avoid showing support for President Mugabe's repressive regime – emerged when the ICC established a four-man monitoring committee to assess the safety of players, officials and spectators following riots in Harare and Bulawayo.

The ECB's 15-man International Team Management Group will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to go ahead with the fixture in defiance of leading politicians, including the Prime Minister Tony Blair. They are likely to give their consent after the Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, said the Board would receive no compensation in spite of a loss of revenue which could run into millions of pounds.

The committee comprise the ICC president Malcolm Gray, chief executive Malcolm Speed, vice-president Ehsan Mani and Percy Sonn, the president of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, the main host nation. A delegation visited Zimbabwe in December to review security and decided it was safe, but the ICC may reschedule the matches in South Africa following recent rioting in Harare and Bulawayo which has called safety into question, thus relieving the ECB's concerns over fines, ethics and the loss of points.

There may be another significant loss, David Graveney, who combines the roles of chairman of selectors and chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association. Just two days before announcing England's World Cup squad the former spinner, who took part in a rebel tour of South Africa during the apartheid era, said that England should not play the Zimbabwe match. But he has not been involved in the dispute and will not attend the ITMG meeting. His role, which has invited accusations of a conflict of interests, was discussed at another recent ITMG gathering.

England's playing preparations for the World Cup suffered another setback as they lost to Australia by seven runs in Hobart. Marcus Trescothick, with 82, and Nick Knight (85) put on 165 for the first wicket in reply to the hosts' 271 for 4 but England still needed 12 runs off the last over. The loss of captain Nasser Hussain left his side stranded on 264 for 7, and the Aussies sealed their finals place.

Earlier, England's tyro paceman James Anderson took two quick wickets but Damien Martyn responded with an unbeaten hundred, sharing century stands with Michael Bevan and Jimmy Maher. Steve Harmison, who like Anderson booked his trip to southern Africa with a succession of impressive performances, experienced another of his recurring nightmares as he sent down 11 wides, including five in his first over. For a full breakdown of his bowling figures, fans should visit his (world wide) website at www.ww..w.www.w..w.co.uk

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