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England to Play World Cup Cricket Matches in Zimbabwe - 2003-01-14

Cricket officials in London have decided that the England team will play as scheduled in the World Cup tournament in Zimbabwe next month, despite calls from the British government to boycott the competition. Zimbabwe is co-hosting the matches with South Africa and Kenya.

The England and Wales Cricket Board voted unanimously to send the team to Zimbabwe. The Board's chief executive, Tim Lamb, told reporters the board does not endorse the Zimbabwe government's policies, but he said it is not the board's job to make political decisions.

"We are fully aware of what is happening in Zimbabwe, however we do not believe that the cancellation of one cricket match in Zimbabwe will make any difference to the leaders of that regime," he said.

Mr. Lamb also said all of the England players are eager to play in the World Cup preliminary match in Zimbabwe.

The British government had urged the board to boycott the Zimbabwe competition because of security concerns, and to protest the human rights record of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. But the government said it was up to the Cricket Board to make the final decision.