Zimbabwe threatens boycott if matches are shifted out

Published: Thursday, February 6, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Leaving little option to the International Cricket Council (ICC) ahead of a crucial meeting, Zimbabwe has refused to play any of its league matches if it was shifted out of the country. The decision of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) came hours before ICC's Technical Committee meeting in Cape Town to decide on England's request to shift its Harare match to South Africa on security reasons.

"Certainly we will not be playing any of our six group matches outside the country," Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) chairman Peter Chingoka said. "We will only go to South Africa for the Super Six stage, and if there is to be any other directive then we will use every channel until justice prevails," Chingoka said. England has tabled a formal request to ICC to have its February 13 match against Zimbabwe shifted while Australia has also expressed concerns about playing its match in Bulawayo on February 24.

The other teams of Pool 'A', all scheduled to play one match each in Zimbabwe - India, Pakistan, the Netherlands and Namibia - have said it'll will go ahead with its games. "Zimbabwe was given the rights to host six group matches, and all the teams must honour contractual obligations of the tournament by fulfilling those commitments," Chingoka was quoted as saying in media reports on Thursday.

"We have steered away from political and moral issues to stick to the issue of safety and security for the players and officials. There have been security delegations from the ICC, which has expressed satisfaction at our security modalities for the World Cup." Meanwhile, AFP quoted ZCU chief executive Vincent Hogg as saying in Harare that Zimbabwe would claim points if England pull out of their scheduled match in Harare.

"We expect the technical committee to rule in favour of the Zimbabwe-England match being played according to the schedule," Hogg said. "We believe we have every right to refuse to play any match rearranged in South Africa, and without penalty to ourselves. "We see no reason for any change in their previously stated position. If the England players afterwards then decide they will not come here, that decision will obviously be on moral and political grounds, which the ZCU has not and will not get involved in," Hogg said. "England will then logically have to forfeit the points, whatever their reasons," he said.

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