England, Australia to call on ICC for venue switch

Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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London: English and Australian cricket chiefs were expected to call on the sport's governing body on Tuesday to switch their World Cup matches in Zimbabwe to South Africa. Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief executive Tim May and Australian Cricket Board (ACB) boss James Sutherland have been briefed by Australia's High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Jonathan Brown, in Johannesburg. They were understood to have decided to call on the International Cricket Council to switch the fixture after being told that Bulawayo was not a safe venue for their team's February 24 One-dayer.

And England Professional Cricketers' Association managing director Richard Bevan said on Tuesday a significant breakthrough was expected over the next 36 hours. He predicted the England Cricket Board (ECB) would appeal to the ICC on security grounds against staging its February 13 match in Harare. "I am certain that they are leading us in the direction of trying to get the games relocated," he told BBC Radio. "I don't want to pre-empt the decision because, at the end of the day, they may still decide it is not something they want to take to review - although I doubt that.

"I believe by Wednesday night we will be in a better position and we can start getting back to cricket in the news rather than the politics." New Zealand has also threatened to boycott its match in Nairobi and has urged the ICC to switch the game to South Africa. ACB chief executive Sutherland said Australia had pulled out of matches before on safety grounds. "We've done that before in the last 12 months and I think that should be an indication that we're prepared to do it here and now," he said.

Australia abandoned a tour of Zimbabwe because of safety concerns last year. Any side who scratch matches during the six-week tournament face losing group points as well as financial repercussions. The ICC has twice passed Zimbabwe safe for six matches but continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis. It can relocate matches at four to five days' notice, meaning next Sunday will be its final chance.

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