It's up to New Zealand Cricket to decide on Kenya

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Under-pressure New Zealand took on the West Indies in Port Elizabeth Thursday knowing that defeat will catapult the World Cup boycott crisis back to the top of the tournament agenda. Defeat in its opening game against Sri Lanka has thrown the decision not to play Kenya in Nairobi, because of terrorism fears, sharply back into focus and left Stephen Fleming's team with some tough thinking to do. The Kiwis, semi-finalists in two of the last three World Cups, intend to forfeit their Group 'B' game on February 21 in the Kenyan capital but a defeat here could force them to reconsider or face an early exit from the tournament.

Defeat on Thursday and again against South Africa would spell disaster if it still refuses to go to Kenya, but Fleming said he is happy for governing body New Zealand Cricket to make the decision. "Even if the players wanted to go to Kenya, it's a New Zealand Cricket decision," he said. "We have total confidence that it will be made in the players' best interests.

The players aren't involved in it, Martin Snedden (NZC) chief executive is solely making the decision on behalf of the New Zealand Cricket Board and he's working through that process." The Kiwis are closely watching England's attempts to have its game against Zimbabwe moved from Harare to South Africa. The West Indies, which defeated South Africa in its first game by three runs, can reach the Super Sixes if it beats New Zealand.

Skipper Carl Hooper has warned his team not to be over-confident in its campaign to add a third World Cup crown to the titles it won in 1975 and 1979. "We have a slight advantage after our first win but that doesn't allow us to get complacent," Hooper said. Meanwhile, defending champion Australia begins its build-up for Saturday's clash with India at Centurion still reeling from the fallout over Shane Warne's drug test failure and the race row involving Adam Gilchrist, who claimed he was racially abused by Pakistan counterpart Rashid Latif during the explosive clash at the Wanderers on Tuesday.

Latif was cleared of the charge and has threatened legal action for defamation against the entire Australian team. "I wouldn't have raised the issue if I hadn't found it offensive. I was shocked by the comment I believe I heard," Gilchrist said. "I and Latif had always had a good relationship both on and off the field. I hope there is no animosity between the two teams when they meet again."

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