England to play cricket in Zimbabwe - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England to play cricket in Zimbabwe

15/01/2003 05:45:52 AM Comments (0)

England's controversial opening World Cup match will go ahead in Zimbabwe next month, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced today.

The ECB decided to go ahead with the fixture despite calls for it to be abandoned in protest at Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's policies and human rights record.

ECB chief executive Tim Lamb said it was not the board's role to take moral decisions on other countries' regimes.

"We are fully aware of what's happening in Zimbabwe and we do not in any way condone or endorse that," Lamb said.

"However, we do not believe that the cancellation of one cricket match in Zimbabwe will make any difference."

Zimbabwe, which is co-hosting the tournament with South Africa and Kenya, has been hit by political violence, famine and economic turmoil since the build-up to elections last March.

But Lamb said it was not fair to expect cricketers to make a political statement by boycotting Zimbabwe when the British government and major companies like British Airways still did business with the country.

The ECB could not afford to absorb the financial losses that might arise from withdrawing from the match, he said.

"As you know, we put our case forcibly to government but despite effectively asking us to withdraw from this match in the national interest, they have refused to entertain the notion of compensating us out of the national purse - a position that contrasts very markedly with that of the Australian government who have taken a much more understanding view," Lamb said.

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