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Thatscricket - News - Zimbabwe~~s England tour still on the hold

Published: Friday, April 11, 2003, 0:16 [IST]
 
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Harare: Zimbabwe's scheduled ten-week cricket tour of England and Ireland, due to start in 19 days time, has still not been approved by the Mugabe government's Sports and Recreation Commission here.The decision whether to allow the tour to go ahead rests with this body, which formally approves or refuses permission for all sports tours overseas of whatever discipline, including up to Olympic Games squads.The Zimbabwe Cricket Union is increasingly anxious about the delay. Chief executive Vincent Hogg said, "We are becoming very concerned. The squad is due to fly to London on April 29 but we haven't received the Sports Commission's approval yet, and there is so much to do."ZCU general manager Ian Robinson confirmed on Thursday that a decision whether they have permission to send a team to England and Ireland had not been received. He said the application was formally submitted to the SRC several weeks ago. "It was certainly timely," he said.All arrangements for the lengthy tour are in place in England and Ireland. It includes two Test matches against England, at Lord's and at Durham, several matches against counties, two games in Ireland and a triangular One-day series against England and South Africa, which ends mid-July.Revenues from the tour would go a long way towards the further development of cricket here.Optimistically, the Zimbabwe national selection committee is nevertheless expected to come up with a 16-man squad and its management on Monday next week as part of the many preparations that have to be undertaken provisionally. The union's concerns are high because England boycotted its cricket World Cup fixture in Harare on February 13, the players claiming that the Zimbabwe capital city was unsafe after receiving threatening letters. Its boycott, made despite repeated assurances of safety by the ICC, the ZCU, and then by an independent international security organisation and a South African judge, is said to have angered President Robert Mugabe. And this has given rise to speculation in Zimbabwe that the scheduled tour to England could be refused in response to the boycott.If that were to happen, relations between the two countries, in cricketing terms, would be soured for several years. There is already intense animosity on the political front.England is due to tour Zimbabwe in November 2004 and this would certainly be jeopardised.The chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, John Morgan, was in Harare two weeks ago to smooth ruffled feathers following the World Cup boycott and to begin a healing process. He offered unspecified compensation for financial losses incurred by ZCU, which had been obliged to pay hotel cancellation fees at the last minute plus the heavy costs of catering, security and returned tickets.England is also facing the possibility of losing up to 2.33 million Pounds in television revenue if a compensation claim is lodged by the contracted TV company.The Sports Commission's manager for "growth and development" Tawanda Manyeruka told a decision would be conveyed to the ZCU by the end of the week. But the chairman Elias Musangeya was not available to confirm that or to explain the delay.Copyright AFP 2001

Extras:
ECB offers Zim compensation for WC boycott

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