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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report

February 03, 2003 16:05 IST

Nasser HussainEngland captain Nasser Hussain says his team could lose patience with the diplomatic process and boycott the Zimbabwe match on their own accord.

He said he would allow various authorities to discuss the rights and wrongs of playing cricket in the southern African nation, which is due to host six World Cup games. But he also stressed it was not beyond his jurisdiction to pull his team out of the Harare fixture on 13 February.

On Thursday the International Cricket Council said the safety of players, officials and supporters alike could be guaranteed in Zimbabwe. However, they did report some deterioration in civil unrest since the first check took place last November.

And an independent review commissioned by the American security firm Kroll is understood to claim 'extensive disruptions of the matches are planned by elements in the opposition MDC party'.

The ICC has said it doesn't want to publicise its security report on England's game against Zimbabwe in case details fall into the wrong hands.

Replying to protests from the England players' representatives that they had been refused access to the report, Malcolm Speed, chief executive of the International Cricket Council, said that sending copies to each of the 14 countries invited a breach of security.

While the ICC and the players' employer, the England and Wales Cricket Board, have said the February 13 game in Harare will go ahead, the players have called for it to be switched to South Africa on safety grounds.

Virender Sehwag's signing for Leicestershire is being hailed as a masterstroke by Indian cricket fans. He will arrive at Grace Road after the World Cup, and Indian cricket enthusiasts are already anticipating a huge boost in interest among Leicester's Asian population.

"It's all about entertainment and he's a huge star and a very entertaining player," said Shai Len, founder member of the Bharat Army, Indian cricket's loyal band of supporters.

"Someone as explosive and exciting as him will bring people through the turnstiles.

"From Leicestershire's point of view it's a very shrewd signing."

Lifelong Leicestershire fan Dev Bhasin, 55, insisted that supporters in the county were delighted with the signing.

"We're excited about his coming and I'm sure Leicestershire will see a pick up in season-ticket sales and an upturn in fortunes this summer," he said.

South African President Thabo Mbeki has told UK Prime Minister Tony Blair there is no reason for England or any other team to boycott the World Cup games in Zimbabwe.

Mbeki insisted that England's concerns over playing in Zimbabwe based on security fears and moral issues surrounding President Robert Mugabe's regime are groundless.

And he told Blair at Chequers that talk of a sports boycott of Zimbabwe was a bolt from the blue.

"It is a bit distressing that now when a big tournament like this comes to us suddenly the sports boycott becomes an issue," said Mr Mbeki, who will officially open the World Cup in Cape Town on February 8.

Shoaib AkhtarPakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar has sounded a warning to Australian stroke-makers, saying he plans to give a special performance against the best during the World Cup.

"I want to target Mathew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist," said the glamour boy of Pakistan cricket, known as much for his fiery pace as his controversial bowling action.

Pakistan, runners-up at the last World Cup, open their campaign with a mouth-watering clash against defending champions Australia in Johannesburg.

"I can't tell you how anxiously I'm waiting for this match. We'll win it and show the world we're there to win the cup," said Akhtar, nicknamed the "Rawalpindi Express" for his ability to unsettle batsmen with sheer pace.

"I want to be the best against the best and the World Cup will be an ideal event to prove that. Pakistan will surprise everyone with their performance and lift the cup," he said.

Reports have suggested that New Zealand face a fine of up to $1.35m for refusing to play in the Kenyan capital. But Snedden said: "A fine is total speculation. There is no provision in the World Cup agreement specifying levels of fines.

"It does talk about where we have reasonable safety and security concerns and, if we satisfy the ICC that is the case, then we have no liability."

Snedden believes the solution is to play the match in South Africa and revealed a decision could be made as late as 18 February, just three days before the game.

NZC's next step may see them take the case to the ICC technical commitee, which takes over jurisdiction for safety at the World Cup from Sunday.

But failing that or the appeals committee, Snedden said it could be put before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

Any decision in Switzerland, however, would come too late for the game.

Kenya were denied the possibility of a morale-boosting victory by rain after inspired bowling by Martin Suji at Buffalo Park.

Suji took four for 11 in a single 10-over spell with the new ball as the home side, Border, were reduced to 47 for five.

Suji ripped out Burton de Wett, Mark Bruyns, Steven Pope and Tyron Henderson for single figure scores.

Scores: Border 194-8 (48 overs) v Kenya -- match abandoned due to rain.

England are hoping an injury worry over allrounder Craig White will be resolved this week as they begin their bid to win the World Cup.

England will play their first warm-up game against Eastern Province on Tuesday at the revamped Motherwell club ground.

Hussain acknowledged that there was still a question mark over White's fitness.

"His test will come (on Monday) or the next day when he actually bowls," the England skipper said. "The sooner he declares himself fit, the better it will be to get our World Cup squad organised. He's the only one with a fitness worry, but things are looking optimistic."

"We had four months improving in Australia and that sets you up nicely for this tournament. We've been playing some good cricket and we go into the tournament with a lot of good cricket behind us."

South Africa's top spymaster says South Africans and international cricket fans need not worry about their safety and security during the ICC Cricket World Cup.

And the likelihood of terrorist attacks on players and spectators concerns the intelligence agencies less than the activities of unscrupulous bookies who are ready to bribe players and officials to make huge betting profits.

National Intelligence Agency director-general Vusi Mavimbela said the organisation was confident South Africa was safe and secure and was under no threat, whether from external or internal terrorism.

Mavimbela said the NIA was in contact with intelligence agencies around the world and would be assisting the South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force to make sure "nothing will compromise the security of the World Cup".

"We have to protect the integrity of the World Cup and if we have information that one or more people on that list were coming into the country, we will monitor them when they are in the country," he said.

Geoff MarshFormer Australian coach Geoff Marsh believes South Africa's World Cup chances have been seriously overrated and Australia will win in a canter if it is switched on.

Marsh, who now coaches Zimbabwe, has been watching both sides closely for a year and has come to the following conclusion: "If you put the sides on paper and compared them man-to-man from one to 11, South Africa might win one vote -- Jacques Kallis against Ricky Ponting -- and they would share one if you put Shaun Pollock up against Brett Lee or Jason Gillespie.

"But that's it. Australia would take the rest of the points. I just think if Australia play to their potential no one will get near them. There is a lot of talk over here that South Africa are a better side, but I don't buy it."

Resurrected World Cup all-rounder Ian Harvey has jeopardised his international career by playing English county cricket and must change his approach to improve, Victorian coach David Hookes said.

A last-minute replacement for the injured Shane Watson, Harvey, 30, has struggled with form and fitness over the past year or so.

"His bowling has lost its spark because of county cricket," Hookes said.

"He was not picked in the original World Cup squad but had he not kept going back to Gloucester, he would probably have been chosen.

"When he's bowling well he's very good but he's lost the spark to nip batsman out, the ball that really makes them hurry their shots and darts away, getting an edge.

"It's a legacy of the grind of constant cricket and I feel for him as a professional cricketer.

"Ricky Ponting has never gone (to county cricket) and his eyes sparkle when he goes out to bat. There is no sparkle in Harvey's eyes."

The Federal Government could pay some of the compensation if Australia boycott a World Cup match in Zimbabwe.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australian diplomats would provide updated information about the risks of playing games in Bulawayo to the Australian Cricket Board and the game's international governing body the ICC.

His comments came as Opposition Leader Crean said the government should insist Australia's cricketers pull out of World Cup matches to be played in Zimbabwe.

Mr Downer said there are risks of playing in Zimbabwe for both the players and the Australian fans who have bought tickets for the matches.

Demonstraters who are injured, or worse, during protests at Zimbabwean World Cup matches are not the responsibility of the International Cricket Council, the organisation's chief executive Malcolm Speed said on Sunday.

"What we are doing in Zimbabwe running cricket matches is perfectly legal, and we will do that to the highest possible standard in terms of safety and security," Speed told reporters at a function to honour the South African national team.

"Zimbabwe is going through a difficult political and economical time, no-one disputes that. People are not demonstrating against us holding cricket matches, let's be clear about that.

"But demonstrators are taking advantage of your presence, the international media, as an opportunity to get their message through," Speed said. 

After almost 22 years in cricket administration, the man who brought transformation to South African cricket has not yet decided what he will do after the World Cup.

"After so many years my body can't handle all the pressures that go with this job. I will want to stay, but probably on a consultant basis when needed", Bacher said.

Bacher said he will be looking forward to a South Africa versus Australia final.

There is of course the opening ceremony which Bacher said will be bigger than anything cricket has experienced before and on a scale that will make all South Africans proud.

"It will be an event that all South Africans should and will be proud of," he said.

Players have been told they face life bans for any dealings with bookmakers during the World Cup, the South African Sunday Times reported on Sunday.

The warning had been sounded by the chief investigator of the International Cricket Council's Anti Corruption Unit (ACU), Jeff Rees.

"There has been a major educational programme to warn players and officials of how they can be compromised and the penalties for having dealings with bookmakers," the paper quoted Rees as saying.

South Africa's National Intelligence Agency (NIA) said on Saturday it is monitoring arrivals in the country for individuals named on an ICC list of suspects having links to cricket betting scams.

Three former Test captains, including the late Hansie Cronje of South Africa, were banned for life after the uncovering of a betting scandal some four years ago.

South Africa play the first game in the World Cup against the West Indies in Cape Town on February 9.

Derek Wyatt, who appeared for England as a replacement in the rugby union international against Scotland in 1976 and who is now the MP for Sittingbourne and North Sheppey is to petition the high court next week seeking a judicial review of the position of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Wyatt claims that clause four of the ECB's constitution states that they are bound "to uphold and enhance the traditions and spirit of the game of cricket". He has received legal advice from a Queen's Counsel that the ECB, as the players' employers, might be in breach of that responsibility.

He has summed up the basis for his legal challenge by saying in The Observer, "Nasser Hussain and the rest of the players clearly do not want to play this match in Zimbabwe, yet at the moment the ECB are still helping to force them to do something their consciences find repugnant.

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