ECB Board to have final say in Englands WC matches

Published: Saturday, January 11, 2003, 18:01 [IST]
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London: The decision-making body of English cricket will decide on Tuesday whether England should go ahead with its controversial World Cup match against Zimbabwe, it was announced on Friday.

A meeting of the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) management board has been called at Lord's on Tuesday and it now appears highly likely it will decide that England will take part in the match in Harare on February 13. The chairman of the ECB David Morgan said he expected the 15-member Board to back England's trip to the Southern African nation despite opposition from the British government. "I would be surprised if the management board determine anything other than to fulfil the commitment to the World Cup by playing in Zimbabwe," Morgan told BBC radio.

"I want cricket to stay united and I think it has to go ahead for this to happen." The British government has urged English cricket chiefs to boycott the match because they fear it will represent a propaganda coup for Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. But the ECB has argued that if England pulls out of the match it will be docked two points which could endanger its progress in the tournament and it could face a compensation bill of up to one million Pounds ($ 1.6 million).

The losses could mount to 10 million Pounds if, in a tit-for-tat move, Zimbabwe pulls out of a tour of England later this year. The British government on Thursday ruled out meeting the ECB's compensation claims. "We may reserve the right to have future discussions with the government. But we are close to exhausting the process. Certainly, once the ECB management board has reached their decision, it will be the definitive decision," an ECB spokesman said.

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