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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Reuters > Report

Let the players take centre stage: Bacher

February 06, 2003 19:53 IST

World Cup executive director Ali Bacher has called for cricket players to replace politicians and administrators in the spotlight just two days before the start of the controversy-plagued tournament.

Bacher will play a key role on Thursday in deciding whether England's match against Zimbabwe should go ahead in Harare.

"Once the opening ceremony gets under way, followed by a fantastic match between South Africa and West Indies on Sunday, I'm as confident as I can be that cricket will take over," Bacher told Reuters.

"It's time for the politicians and administrators, myself included, to take a back seat."

Bacher said he hopes the issues over England's match in Zimbabwe and New Zealand's in Kenya would be solved by the weekend.

England have made an official request for their match against Zimbabwe in Harare on February 13 to be switched to South Africa, while New Zealand, also concerned about security, do not want to play Kenya in Nairobi on February 24.

Bacher, who sits on a World Cup technical committee on Thursday to consider England's submission, said he was not totally surprised by the schedule problems dogging the tournament.

"It's a different world since September 11. It would be naive, in my opinion, to expect that in today's times one can host a world sporting event of this magnitude without political issues surfacing," he said.

Six men are due to take part the technical committee meeting in Cape Town at 1430 GMT, although former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding may not reach South Africa in time.

The issue will be settled by a majority decision, with England or Zimbabwe allowed a further appeal to a judge.

Members of the technical committee:

Ali Bacher (South Africa). World Cup executive director and captain of the last team to play official Test cricket during the apartheid era. Responsible for the tournament's format, including giving six games to Zimbabwe and two to Kenya.

Malcolm Speed (Australia). ICC chief executive. The ICC has maintained that it is concerned solely with security and not political or moral issues.

Sunil Gavaskar (India). Chairman of the ICC cricket committee. Scored a world record 34 Test centuries for India before pursuing a career in administration. The Asian countries support playing in Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Michael Holding (West Indies). The world's fastest bowler in the late 1970s and now a perceptive television commentator. A man of independent views, he announced he would not commentate on any West Indies matches after the selectors appointed Carl Hooper as captain.

Campbell Jamieson (Australia). ICC commercial manager. One of several Australians holding senior positions in the world governing body.

Brian Basson (South Africa). A former umpire who was involved in working out the World Cup schedule.

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