Thatscricket - News - Eng awaits Foreign Office advice on Zim tour

Published: Friday, January 23, 2004, 21:08 [IST]
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London:England cricket officials are looking at a feasibility study from the Foreign Office which gives advice on whether they could tour Zimbabwe later this year.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have set themselves a deadline of next Thursday to decide whether they can send a team to play in a country beset by the malignant and despotic regime of Robert Mugabe.

The contents of the letter from Government are as yet unknown beyond the decision-makers at Lord's, but it is hoped they can help to give the ECB clear direction on the best way forward.

The ECB have long been committed to a reciprocal arrangement to tour Zimbabwe following that country's trip to England last summer - even though Nasser Hussain's team boycotted their World Cup tie in Harare almost 12 months ago.

It was initially expected the ECB would rule on the matter next month. But following the publication of a document by the ECB's Des Wilson which sets out a "framework for rational decision-making" on whether to tour troubled countries, the decision day has been brought forward.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has in the meantime reiterated that England - as a Test-playing member country - has agreed they must consider reneging on any playing arrangement only on "security and safety" grounds, rather than for political reasons.

But the ECB, who endured many uncomfortable weeks before finally deciding to stay away from Harare last winter, believe they have done the right thing this time by going public at the first opportunity with their deliberation process.

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