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Organisers welcome England decision
January 14, 2003 21:59 IST
Cricket World Cup organisers welcomed Monday's decision by England to play in Zimbabwe despite British government opposition and said they hope Australia would follow suit.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said the England team would play its February 13 match against Zimbabwe in Harare, rejecting government pressure to boycott the match in protest at President Robert Mugabe's policies and Zimbabwe's human rights record.
"We are happy to hear this news and we trust that this puts the matter to rest," Jos Charle, spokesman for the World Cup organisers, told Reuters in South Africa, which is hosting the tournament.
Charle said the organisers hoped for a similar decision from Australian cricket authorities, who have also come under pressure from their government to boycott Zimbabwe.
"In the wider interests of cricket and the cricket World Cup, and the integrity of the game, we trust that they (Australia) will also see their way through to honouring their fixture," Charle said.
The ECB decision appeared to guarantee the England-Zimbabwe match would go ahead unless the International Cricket Council (ICC) revisited its December decision that Zimbabwe was a safe venue for World Cup matches.
Six of the tournament's 54 matches are due to take place in Zimbabwe, where food shortages have led to outbreaks of violence and fuelled opposition to Mugabe.
Charle said that a top-level committee including top ICC officials and the head of South Africa's United Cricket Board were monitoring security in Zimbabwe on a daily basis.
"Their mandate is to continuously assess the situation in Zimbabwe," Charle said. "As the situation stands at the moment, those matches will go ahead."
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