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England may open World Cup with boycott
February 09, 2003 15:02 IST
England are just a step away from formalising their decision to boycott their World Cup opener against Zimbabwe in Harare on February 13.
England's scheduled 0730 local time [1100 IST] flight to Harare on Sunday was cancelled. Instead a press conference will be held later on Sunday, when the final decision will be announced.
A group called 'The Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe' has threatened the cricketers if they go ahead with Thursday's match.
England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tim Lamb and chairman David Morgan spoke to the players on Saturday before attending the opening ceremony in Cape Town.
It is understood that the ECB wants the players to go ahead with the match or at least defer a final decision until after Zimbabwe's match against Namibia in Harare on Monday.
"The matter is down to us in terms of how much preparation we would need. It's a very complex and sensitive issue," said Lamb.
Speaking to rediff.com, Lamb said, "Discussions are on about the death threat received by the English players. We have had the letter examined by authorities in South Africa, Zimbabwe and England and have come to the conclusion that this does not constitute a threat.
"However, we have sympathy for the dilemma and trauma that the England players are going through. But a final decision will be taken this evening."
Lamb said the threat letter was received by him in the United Kingdom on January 20 and he passed it on to the ICC, who in turn handed it over to the South African intelligence agencies and British High Commission in Zimbabwe.
A copy of the letter, he informed, was given to the England players on Friday night before they met ICC president Malcolm Gray.
"The various agencies have called the letter a hoax and the work of a crank, but one can never be sure," said Andrew Wadpole," the England media manager.