Players split in mind on Zim WC ties, says Hussain

Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 0:49 [IST]
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London: England captain Nasser Hussain has revealed for the first time that his teammates were having doubts about their World Cup trip to Harare, saying they were "split in their minds" about whether to travel to Zimbabwe for the tie on February 13. The players will meet the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman David Morgan individually in Sydney on Monday when Morgan will try to allay any fears they have about the trip, reports said.

"We have not discussed openly whether we could (pull out of the game) or not, but I've asked the boys to read up on the situation," Hussain said after his team's loss to Australia in a tri-nation match at Adelaide Oval on Sunday. "We are split in our minds possibly because what we see on television and what's happening out there (Zimbabwe) makes you think, is it right to go or not?" Hussain told a Channel 4 documentary that reports that Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe was distributing food aid along party-political lines, exacerbating the famine in the north of the country, had led to uncertainty in the players' minds.

"I saw a programme on CNN last night and what is happening out there makes you think, is it right to go or not? And that is what all our boys are doing. "But world cricket says they are going to Zimbabwe, our Board says it is going to Zimbabwe and we have signed our contracts and there is no split in the dressing room," he said. "We have not had any kind of vote or discussion as to whether we are going or not. "What we have are young lads in their hotel room watching on television about Zimbabwe and asking themselves about the issue.

Everyone says we are going but you ask yourself some difficult questions and that is what everyone in world cricket is doing, even the Zimbabwean cricketers. "We probably sway from one day to the next on this. What I saw on television about Zimbabwe was very poor," Hussain said. "We are not completely isolated from the world. We have laptops, television and newspaper and we see what is going on." Morgan, talking to the London programe Radio 5 Live from Adelaide, reiterated England's commitment to the Harare fixture, saying he has not seen any signs of doubt among England's 15-member squad for the World Cup.

"I have had no indication at all and I have been in close contact with the captain, the coach and many players," he said. He said England might not be allowed a replacement for any player refusing to play in Harare. "The situation now is that all 15 World Cup selected players have signed their player terms and, if any one decided that he didn't now want to make it, there is no guarantee that we would be allowed to replace that cricketer," he said. "Replacements are allowed on the basis of health and fitness only, I believe."

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