Accessibility links

Britain Should Decide Quickly About Zimbabwe Play, says Cricket Council - 2003-02-11

The International Cricket Council has told the England team and its governing board to decide quickly whether the team will play its World Cup match as scheduled Thursday in Zimbabwe. The team and its board have expressed concern about security in Zimbabwe.

International Cricket Council chief Malcolm Speed said the English team simply needs to decide whether it is going to Zimbabwe or not.

The ICC said it has given England the report of a top South African police official on the security matters that have caused concern on the English team. South African Deputy National Police Commissioner Andre Pruis said he believes a letter containing death threats should be treated as propaganda and not a direct threat.

He said the author of the letter a previously unknown group calling itself the "Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe" lacks the capacity to carry out any threat and sent the letter with the sole purpose of disrupting the Cricket World Cup.

World Cup Chief Executive Ali Bacher urged the English team to decide quickly. He said many people have bought plane tickets and booked hotel rooms so they can watch the match scheduled for Thursday in Harare, and they need to know as soon as possible whether there will be a match.

The English Cricket Board said it will take as long as it needs to make its decision.

The penalties for England are severe if the team elects not to go to Zimbabwe. First, the team would lose four possible tournament points, making it much harder to advance to the second-round in a very tough pool that also includes Pakistan, India and Australia.

The scarier prospect for the cash-strapped England and Wales Cricket Board is a possible fine of up to $16 million for breaking its commitment to the ICC to play in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean and South African cricket authorities have also threatened that their teams will call off planned tours to England in the next year. The loss of those series would be a further financial blow to the English team.