London: The International Cricket Council (ICC), the global cricket governing body, has rejected England team's plea to shift its World Cup tie in Zimbabwe saying "as it currently stands" there was "no reason to move the games". Stating that the ICC has appointed an independent firm of international security advisers to provide its expert view on the situation in Zimbabwe, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said, "As it currently stands, based on this expert advice the ICC board continues to see no reason to move the games.
"Should the situation change there is in place the system to alert the ICC to this and a proper decision making process to deal with any need to relocate games," he said. The ICC confirmed that it was aware of the safety and security concerns of the England players and that it would continue to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe in the lead-up to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003. England is scheduled to play Zimbabwe at Harare on February 13.
Speed said he assumed that Monday's calls by the Professional Cricketer's Association for the games to be moved would be raised by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) at the next teleconference of the ICC board scheduled for Friday. "The process is in place for the English players, through their Board to have this issue discussed and debated," he said.
Speed noted that as recently as last Friday, the ICC board, including the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) David Morgan, met to consider the issue and no member sought to present any argument to the board to move the game. "The ECB will have the opportunity argue its case later this week during the ICC board teleconference that will again discuss the games scheduled for Zimbabwe and Kenya." Speed stressed that the ICC board has previously determined that safety and security is the only criterion to be considered by the ICC.
"The ICC is an international sporting organisation with 84 members with a variety of cultures, beliefs and political systems. Its members are in place to make judgements on cricket administration and not to take a political stance on foreign policy issues. This is the role and responsibility of governments," he said. "Many months ago, the ICC executive board discussed this issue and all members, including the ECB, endorsed this position.
Of course, should the ECB wish to have this approach reviewed, it will be entitled to argue the case at the meeting on Friday," he said Speed said the ICC is committed to monitoring the safety and security of players and officials in Zimbabwe and this was being done on a daily basis. "There is in place a properly resources and highly skilled security directorate that is responsible for the safety of all teams," he said.