ECB offers Zim compensation for WC boycott
Published: Sunday, March 30, 2003, 1:51 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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Harare: The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is to pay the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) an undisclosed sum of money in compensation following the England players' boycott of their World Cup fixture, due to have been played on February 13. The ECB chairman David Morgan, who made a two-day visit to the Zimbabwe capital, told his counterpart Peter Chingoka that the compensation was purely a goodwill gesture and it did not imply liability by the ECB. The money will help cover hotel expenses, catering wastage, security, ticket sales and administrative costs, which still had to be met after England failed to show up. But the ECB may yet face a detailed claim by the ZCU. Morgan stated that "England did not come to Zimbabwe because of safety concerns only, and there was no political agenda." The reason was the player's anxieties following a threatening letter from "Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe." Chingoka took the opportunity, though, of repeating to him the ZCU assertion that Harare was, and remains, a safe place to play cricket. The ECB "goodwill" offer was clearly the beginning of a healing process between the two cricket nations ahead of a 10 week tour to England and Ireland by Zimbabwe expected to begin at the end of April. However, approval for this tour now rests with the Zimbabwe government's Sports and Recreation Commission, which should make its decision in the next few days. There has been speculation in Harare that President Robert Mugabe might veto the tour to England in retaliation for the World Cup boycott. Zimbabwe is scheduled to play several England counties before two Tests, at Lord's and at Durham. This will be followed by 10 days in Ireland and then a triangular One- day series involving England, Zimbabwe and South Africa. An extended Zimbabwe fixture list - until 2011 - includes England making a return tour to Zimbabwe in November next year. Chingoka saw no reason why that should not go ahead. Zimbabwe is having to rebuild its national team following the losses of senior players Andy Flower (to Essex and then South Australia), Henry Olonga (seeking political asylum in England), Guy Whittall (retired) and Alistair Campbell (out of favour with selectors and heading off on a radio commentating career). Flower and Olonga stunned the cricket world at the beginning of the World Cup by wearing black armbands in protest at what they referred to in a joint statement as "the death of democracy" in Zimbabwe. But Chingoka believes Zimbabwe can successfully rebuild for the next World Cup. "We have entered a new era" he said. Zimbabwe is replacing South Africa and Kenya replaces Sri Lanka in the Sharjah international tournament which begins next week. Pakistan is the third nation competing. Pakistan and Zimbabwe held talks in Bulawayo following their rained-off Pool 'A' match on March 4 about the possibility of a Zimbabwe tour to Pakistan. But this was put off "due to time constraints" said Chingoka.