Harare: Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) officials on Monday reacted sharply to reports that English umpire Peter Willey did not want to travel to Bulawayo to officiate World Cup matches. Sky News reported that Willey, a former Test batsman, had requested the International Cricket Council (ICC) to change his Zimbabwe schedule where he is due to officiate the February 24 game against Australia and be the third umpire for the February 28 match featuring the Netherlands.
England forfeited its game in Harare for security reasons and Willey wanted to do the same, Sky News said. ZCU chief executive Vince Hogg was livid at the latest controversy to hit the World Cup. "Just what is the matter with these people, I ask? I am at the hotel where all the teams stay and where the Indians are at the moment," Hogg said. "Security here and at both our grounds is extremely tight. Willey has absolutely no need to worry on that account, nor any one else. "I would tell him bluntly: Just talk to your High Commission here."
Hogg said the ICC has twice established for itself that this is a "perfectly safe and secure place for an Englishman to be". India will play Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports club here on Wednesday and has often stated they have no qualms about playing in Harare. Meanwhile, South Africa's Security Minister Charles Nqakula re-opened the boycott row by accusing England and New Zealand, who wants its game against Kenya switched from Nairobi, of dishonesty. "People need to be honest and give us the real reason why they do not want to go to these countries, because it has nothing to do with the safety and security of players," Nqakula said.
Nqakula said South Africa had helped Zimbabwe and Kenya put their security plans in place for the World Cup. "When people say they did not want to go to those places because of security fears, they are not telling the truth. We do not have the information on which they based their decision not to go to these two places," he told a South African news agency in Cape Town. "It has nothing to do with security. There are other considerations, which I will not go into. Those who are raising the matter must be honest enough to say these are the real reasons."