Des Wilson puts in his papers over Zimbabwe tour

Published: Wednesday, April 28, 2004, 19:37 [IST]
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London:England were expected to confirm they would go ahead with their controversial tour of Zimbabwe in October after one of the management board directors resigned.

Des Wilson, the former vice-chairman of the Liberal Party who was appointed chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) corporate affairs and marketing advisory committee last year, revealed the Board had given in to pressure from the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The ECB appeared to be preparing the ground for a withdrawal in January when a paper written by Wilson argued for the first time that moral reasons could form the basis of a refusal to tour.

"The fact is the ECB has been placed in an intolerable position by the ICC's inflexible and, in my view, malevolent enforcement of its international tours programme with draconian and disproportionate penalties that would devastate the English game, forcing the ECB itself into insolvency and bankrupting up to a third of the first-class counties. In the short term, I believe the ECB should make such a tour only under protest," Wilson said.

Under new sanctions agreed at an ICC board meeting in Auckland last month, England were told they risked a two million dollar fine if they fail to tour Zimbabwe.

They could also lose their lucrative status as hosts of September's ICC Champions Trophy One-day tournament.

And, worst of all, they could even be suspended from international cricket. That would prove disastrous for English cricket at all levels as international matches provide some 85 percent of the ECB's annual turnover of 55 million pounds (101 million dollars).

England had agreed in March last year to tour Zimbabwe in return for Zimbabwe touring England in 2003, having controversially withdrawn from a World Cup match in Harare on security grounds a month earlier.

Australia tour Zimbabwe next month and Sri Lanka are currently touring the southern African country.

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