England begins World Cup quest, mum on Zimbabwe

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2003, 21:19 [IST]
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Johannesburg: An embattled England arrived in South Africa on Tuesday from Australia to start its World Cup cricket quest with captain Nasser Hussain opting to stay out of the political furore over Zimbabwe.

As the team hoped to be told on Thursday whether its plea to move its World Cup match in Zimbabwe to South Africa, Hussain said he would not like to comment before then. "All we asked for is an urgent review of the game in Zimbabwe, nothing more, and I don't think it would be wise for me to comment until that review has taken place," Hussain said on arrival at Johannesburg International Airport. But pressed on the issue of Zimbabwe, a tired-looking and irritated Hussain said, "I don't really want to run around in circles here.

"This tournament is about the World Cup, its about Africa, its about all the hard work that's been put in already. "We have released one statement - if you read that statement any questions should be referred to Richard Bevan, our representative," he said. Hussain said he did not believe the team had been given added security, but on arrival was met by police and private security guards. "It's no more than for any other team.

We have been out to this part of the world before - My first tour and (coach) Duncan's (Fletcher) first tour have been to South Africa - we were very well looked after on and off the field - South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya." Hussain said the team planned to play golf for the next few days at the casino resort of Sun City "getting some time away from cricket" before starting its preparations in earnest over the weekend. "We are just trying to get to be a unit - it's all about the key games.

It's a bit of a cliche but it's all about peaking at the right time," Hussain said. England believe it has made a strong case for switching the February 13 fixture from Harare, citing the "moral, political and safety" issues surrounding a fixture played in a country ruled by President Robert Mugabe. The International Cricket Council bosses, whose deadline to move the game is February 9, hold a teleconference on Thursday to review the situation.

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