|Home -> News -> Report|
|Zim Tour: Eng warned of tough action by ICC|
Thursday, January 22 2004 11:51 Hrs (IST)
The International Cricket Council (ICC) re-affirmed its stance that safety and security was the only basis for cancelling International matches after a report produced by a senior English official concluded that pulling out of the Zimbabwe tour would be justified on moral grounds.
The report, drawn up by England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) corporate affairs chairman Des Wilson, said concerns over Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's human rights record could and should be taken into account when the Board decides on January 29 whether to proceed with the November tour.
"Can we tour this country knowing what we do about its stance on human rights and the suffering of its people?," Wilson's report said.
"The safety and security of a touring party can in today's circumstances no longer be the only factor in deciding whether or not to proceed with a controversial tour."
Wilson's recommendations, if implemented, would represent a major departure from the existing policy of the ECB which to date has followed the ICC's 'safety-only' position.
ICC President Ehsan Mani and chief executive Malcolm Speed held a meeting on Tuesday with ECB counterparts David Morgan and Tim Lamb where the global governing body repeated its position
"All Test-playing countries, including England, have given a binding commitment to each other that political considerations would not be a factor when reviewing playing obligations and this commitment was discussed during the meeting," said Mani in a statement.
"In this case, the arrangements for this tour have been made on a bilateral basis under the umbrella of the ICCs future tours programme that is agreed by all countries."
Mani, a Pakistani, added that the ICC would try to ensure fairness for both parties but said the ECB could be subjected to disciplinary action if it pulled out.
"Should the ECB elect to withdraw from this tour for reasons other than safety and security, it would then be open to the ZCU (Zimbabwe Cricket Union) to take the ECB to the ICCs Disputes Resolution Committee to determine if any compensation is payable or to take any other legal action that might be open to it under the terms of any agreement between the ECB and the ZCU."
Wilson stressed on Wednesday that no decision had been taken. "This is the management Board's decision, not mine. I am merely suggesting the factors they should take into account," he told BBC Radio.
But after his report received blanket coverage in the British press, it is hard to see how the ECB could now give the go-ahead to the tour without suffering a major public relations embarrassment.
The ZCU reacted to Wilson's report by appealing to the ECB to honour their commitment to tour in return for Zimbabwe coming to England last year.
ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka said, "Having honoured our word that we would tour the United Kingdom we naturally expect England to reciprocate by touring Zimbabwe."
England's promise to tour Zimbabwe followed the team's boycott of a World Cup match in Harare last year on security grounds.
The ICC ruled that England were not justified in that decision and docked them World Cup points as well as withholding 2.3 million pounds of their share of tournament revenues.
But even if England had to pay compensation, they could yet save money by not touring. One of English cricket's major sponsors, communications firm Vodafone, has warned it may withdraw its annual three million pound (5.4 million dollar, 4.3 million euro) backing if the tour goes ahead.
Bangladesh in February, Sri Lanka in April and Australia in May and June are all set to tour Zimbabwe before England. Australia is due to send a delegation to Zimbabwe in March to assess the situation.
Zimbabwe asks England to honour cricket tour