London: England's policy on playing World Cup matches in Zimbabwe appeared to be in a state of complete confusion on Sunday. England captain Nasser Hussain said the final decision should be left to the British Government but chairman of selectors David Graveney said it was a matter for individual conscience. Both stances differ from the official policy of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). It has backed the International Cricket Council's (ICC) ruling that, as there is no safety or security risk attached to playing in Zimbabwe, all six World Cup matches scheduled to take place there should go ahead.
That verdict was reached after the ICC sent an inspection party to Zimbabwe last month, a group which included ECB chief executive Tim Lamb. England is due to play Zimbabwe in the capital Harare on February 13. Hussain, writing in his column in the broadsheet 'Sunday Telegraph' newspaper, said, "Robert Mugabe is a major world leader. "A few years ago I was a lad playing cricket for Ilford 2nd XI, and now I'm expected to make a political judgement on whether or not I should lead the England team to Zimbabwe and perhaps shake the Zimbabwe president by the hand. "It must be right that the decision is made at a higher level than sport, by a government body," added Hussain, currently leading England in the fourth Ashes Test against Australia in Melbourne. But in an interview with 'Sunday tabloid' the News of the World, Graveney, who is also chairman of England's Professional Cricketers Association, said, "Every player has to make up his own mind. I can't tell them, 'Don't go.' But if you asked me as an individual, I would not go to Zimbabwe.
"And I think people are being presumptuous to assume our cricketers will just jump on a plane and go," added Graveney who managed a rebel England tour to South Africa in 1990 when the country was still excluded from official international cricket because of apartheid. Politicians from all parties in Britain have called for England to pull out of its Harare match in protest at Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's alleged abuses of human rights and the electoral process and the forcible eviction of white farmers from their land.