England death threats spark Zimbabwe boycott: Reports

Published: Sunday, February 9, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Cape Town: England's cricketers will boycott their controversial World Cup opener against Zimbabwe in Harare on February 13 following death threats, the BBC reported on Sunday.

Furthermore, according to Britain's 'Sunday Telegraph' newspaper, a group called 'The Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe', have threatened players and their families if the team went ahead with the match. England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tim Lamb and chairman David Morgan were locked in marathon talks with their players for most of Saturday before breaking off to attend the night's opening ceremony at Newlands.

It is understood that the ECB was still keen for the players to go ahead with the match or, failing that, defer a final decision until after Zimbabwe's initial match against African rivals Namibia in Harare on Monday.

Opposition groups in Zimbabwe have threatened to use that match and the other five World Cup fixtures in the country to protest against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. Ominously, on Saturday, Zimbabwe police arrested three members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is currently on trial for treason.

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