Zimbabwe warns England of dire consequences for boycott

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2003, 3:05 [IST]
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Harare: Zimbabwe cricket chiefs fly to Cape Town on Thursday to warn England of the multi-million dollar damage it could cause for boycotting its World Cup clash. The decision of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) not to honour its commitment to play because of its fears over security in the strife-torn nation has infuriated the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU).

"There will be considerable financial losses following the England withdrawal and the ZCU accounting staff are working out the figures," said board chairman Peter Chingoka on Wednesday. Although the boycott will not affect Zimbabwe's share of the television money, the authorities are worried about other financial consequences such as compensation for ticket sales, hired staff, hotel and transport costs incurred.

Ironically, the deadline given by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for England to make a formal submission to have the game switched to another venue, 16:00GMT, falls at the time that the Group 'A' clash at the Harare Sports Club should be underway. Chingoka and chief executive Vincent Hogg will be present as the World Cup technical committee rules for the second time on the crisis having already turned down England's plea to have the game switched.

Their frame of mind will not have been improved by Hogg allegedly having been snubbed by the ECB in Cape Town last week and kept waiting for three hours despite being invited to address the players and officials. The ZCU is confident that the technical committee will rule again in their favour and oppose any switch of venue. "We are extremely disappointed that the ECB has rejected the ICC directive to play in Harare. We don't know what this new evidence is that England say they have," said Chingoka.

"We had a big crowd here for the Namibia game on Monday and there were no problems whatsoever. So it is still our position that Zimbabwe is safe." Chingoka expected the technical committee to make its final decision on England's submission by Saturday or Sunday. India is due to play at Harare Sports club on Wednesday and it has said it has no problem in going to Harare. Instead of playing England on Thursday, it will be just another practice day for the Zimbabwe squad.

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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