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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Reuters > Report

Zimbabwe, Kenya remain as World Cup hosts

John Mehaffey in London | January 31, 2003 10:11 IST

Zimbabwe and Kenya retained their preliminary matches for the World Cup starting next month after a special International Cricket Council teleconference on Thursday to discuss potential security fears.

The ICC rejected a plea by New Zealand to switch their match in Nairobi to South Africa, while no formal resolution was presented by England to shift their game from Harare.

Six matches are scheduled for Zimbabwe and two in Nairobi. The remaining 46 matches in the tournament, opening in Cape Town on February 8, will take place in South Africa.

New Zealand Cricket had urged the world governing body to move their match after a security review discovered 'active terrorist organisations' operating in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

But ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed told a news conference in London the board had turned down the New Zealand request.

"The ICC board decided there were no sufficient reasons to move the game," he said.

He said only New Zealand and England had voted in favour of transferring the match, while the Netherlands, who have a game scheduled for Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, had abstained.

Heath Mills, a spokesman for the New Zealand players' association, said the team would be very disappointed with the decision.

"I spoke to them last night and they were very hopeful that the ICC would transfer their game," he said.

Speed said England and Wales Cricket Board president David Morgan had raised 'very forcibly' concerns expressed by the England team about the political and security situation in Zimbabwe. However, he said no formal request had been made to shift the match.

A spokesman for the England players said the news conference had led to 'significant disappointment' and another statement would be released on Friday.

Right of Appeal

Australia, who have also expressed concerns about their security in Zimbabwe, Namibia, the Netherlands, India and Pakistan, are scheduled to play matches in Zimbabwe. Sri Lanka play the other game in Nairobi.

If New Zealand do not accept Thursday's decision their next recourse will be a six-man ICC technical committee, which has the power from Sunday to consider any appeal to move matches for security reasons.

The committee includes ICC executive director Ali Bacher and two former leading players Michael Holding [West Indies] and Sunil Gavaskar [India].

Bacher welcomed Thursday's decision, saying it had always been the ICC's 'unwavering belief' to stage the matches in Zimbabwe and Kenya.

If the committee decides a country has legitimate reasons for declining to play at a specified venue it can rule that the match be abandoned and the points shared. Three judges from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya will be a final appeal body.

The ICC has still left open the possibility of shifting matches to South Africa and Speed said the England match in Harare could be moved four days before the scheduled date of February 13.

"If in the next few days or weeks there is a discernible deterioration in safety and security surrounding particular matches then decisions must be urgently reviewed and, if necessary, matches moved," an ICC statement said.

"We must all reserve our right for this to happen."

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