'Banned' scribes feast on go-home graffiti

Published: Saturday, November 27, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
Share this on your social network:
   Facebook Twitter Google+    Comments Mail

London:Go-home graffiti and a row over compensation gave cricket journalists something to write about in their first dispatches from Zimbabwe after the delayed arrival of the England side.

England, who flew into Harare from Johannesburg on Friday, had been ready to pull out of the tour over the refusal of President Robert Mugabe's government to grant visas to 13 journalists assigned to cover the event.

An 11th hour U-turn to grant them entry saved the tour, but the decision came too late for Friday's opening match in Harare, which was cancelled, resulting in the One-day tour being cut back from five matches to four.

Several journalists angled their reports in Saturday's national newspapers on fresh red graffiti on a white wall on Robert Mugabe Avenue near England's five-star hotel.

It read "England go home, shame on England" and "England go back".

"Such remarks are unlikely to make the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) reconsider their position, but it highlighted to the team that not everybody in this country is pleased to see them," wrote Angus Fraser in The Independent.

On page one of The Guardian, under the headline "A country where the Big Man rules," Paul Kelso wrote: "The opportunistic graffiti could hardly have been missed by the players as they departed for practice."

"On the streets around Miekles (hotel), the cricketers' arrival has been noted by those who might benefit from the travelling circus, and any visitor emerging from the hotel quickly receives offers to change currency on the black market," he reported.

One man selling "small ebony animals" on the street, who told Kelso he welcomed the visitors, was offering 8,500 Zimbabwean dollars for one US dollar, compared to the official rate of 6,000 dollars.

The black market for foreign currency also caught the eye of former England player Derek Pringle, writing for the Daily Telegraph, who found Harare "a city cleaner and greener than most of its African counterparts".

"Looks can prove deceptive in closed societies," he added, "although with (England cricket team captain) Michael Vaughan and his team enjoying VIP status, they are unlikely to see the other Zimbabwe."

Richard Hobson, in The Times, and Mike Dickson, in the Daily Mail, focussed on a money dispute which they said has erupted between the England and Zimbabwe cricket boards.

They both noted that Morgan refused to pay compensation to the hosts for the abridged schedule on grounds that Zimbabwe was to blame for the flap over journalists' visas.

Write Comments