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Home > Business > Special


England's poor innings

V Krishnaswamy | February 15, 2003

So, England finally did not go to Zimbabwe for their World Cup match.

And they could lose much more than four points. They may have to cough up as much as $1.6 million and the already impoverished English and Wales Cricket will certainly go under if it has to pay that as compensation.

As things stand, the International Cricket Council, not really the clearest of bodies when it comes to solving problems, is yet to decide whether or not to award the four points to Zimbabwe.

People are still talking about the match being re-scheduled. That really is far-fetched, considering Zimbabwe's clear-cut refusal to play's its league matches outside its own country.

Two more such cases could occur in the next few days. Australia, while still being unclear may follow suit, and New Zealand, which had publicly announced it would not go to Kenya, may actually do so, now that they have won against West Indies.

Sure, the World Cup is in a mess and the ICC and its mandarins must be having sleepless nights as Rupert Murdoch and his lawyers visit them in nightmares every night.

The ECB claims it has new evidence to prove that there was indeed a security risk and that the ICC's Technical Board needs to meet again to see if the match could be moved to a new location and date.

England's reluctance to go to Zimbabwe has been a subject of debate for a long time. That's long enough for the ICC to come up with a solution. But it's tough when it concerns a world body and the sport is getting you $550 million.

A radical faction group called the 'Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe' is believed to be the reason for England's concern.

The group may or may not exist; the threat may or not be an empty one, but after what all has happened in this world of ours, anything is possible.

To be fair to Nasser Hussain and his men, they cannot be faulted for being reluctant to go to Zimbabwe, after all the horror stories one reads about Mugabe land.

Saying that the place is not unsafe simply because Namibia played there or India and Pakistan are ready to do so, cannot mean it is safe for England to do the same. After all an Indian travelling to Baghdad does not face the same kind of risks as an American or an Englishman.

But, there are other problems. Now that the game has not taken place, will the ICC, dominated by pro-English officials, dock England four points and also levy a fine on them.

The Global Cricket Corporation, which bought the rights from ICC, could logically ask for compensation in lieu of a game not having been played.

Remember India had been warned that they could be fined heavily if they sent anything less than the best -- what good have the best been is something Indian fans would love to ask -- to the World Cup.

Also, there still hangs the threat of a fine (read compensation) if the Court of Arbitration in Lausanne rules against the Indians after the World Cup in the contracts issue concerning advertising and ambush marketing.

Indian Board's president Jagmohan Dalmiya has been quick to take a dig at the ICC and has called for a heavy fine on ECB.

That fine could be as heavy as $1.6 million in compensation fees for not fulfilling its contractual obligations to the ICC.

The fine and four penalty points may not be the only fall out.

There is also the belief that South Africa, in an attempt to show African solidarity may decide against touring England this summer. Also Zimbabwe may not want to go to England.

The losses from a tour not taking place could exceed $10 million, and such heavy losses could break ECB's back, which anyway is under heavy strain because of the lack of sponsorship in English cricket.

The ICC has been bowling bouncers at India for the last few months. Now, it's the turn of England and the ICC to face the ball on the backfoot.


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