Johannesburg: World Cup chief Ali Bacher on Tuesday welcomed England's decision to go ahead with its World Cup game in Harare next month, saying it had "committed itself to the principles of international cricket".
"The England Cricket Board's (ECB) decision is to be welcomed for cricketing reasons," said Bacher, World Cup 2003 executive director, in a statement issued in Johannesburg. "In making this decision, England is committing itself to the principles of international cricket - among which is a desire to develop the game in all regions of the world," he said.
Bacher said the World Cup 2003 organising committee understood that there were many calls for political change in Zimbabwe, "but cricket takes decisions for cricketing reasons and is not qualified to do the jobs of politicians". "Now that this decision has been made, we hope the first World Cup to come to South Africa and this continent, will be able to proceed according to plan and greatly benefit our country, Africa and international cricket."
English cricket authorities on Tuesday rejected British premier Tony Blair's call to boycott Zimbabwe during next month's World Cup. South African cricket authorities Tuesday also welcomed England's decision, saying it has given Zimbabwe a "privilege". "England has given Zimbabwe a privilege. Without them (England), cricket there will be dead. Interest would have waned. Does it help to boycott it, or do we help to restore cricket in that country?" United Cricket Board president Percy Sonn told.
Asked whether he did not have a problem with playing a normal sport in an abnormal society, Sonn said, "It determines what you term an abnormal society. One viewpoint is as good as the other. Although some say that there were irregularities, they had elections there and President Robert Mugabe won."