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ICC inspectors in Zimbabwe

London: The International Cricket Council (ICC) will not compromise on the safety of players at next year’s World Cup, chief executive Malcolm Speed said before leaving for Zimbabwe at the head of an ICC security delegation.

Zimbabwe is scheduled to host six matches at the World Cup, which starts in February, but concerns arising from violence over the country’s controversial land reform programme.

The delegation, which arrives in Zimbabwe on Tuesday, includes the chief executives of the Boards of the countries due to play in Zimbabwe, namely England, Australia, India, Pakistan, Namibia and Holand. Speed will lead them on three days of inspections from Wednesday.

Speed said the ICC was keen that the matches go ahead in Harare and Bulawayo as planned. “The Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) is a full member of the ICC and has the right to host these games,” Speed said. “They are very important both commercially and professionally for the game in Zimbabwe.

“The ICC will do everything possible to ensure the ZCU is able to benefit from hosting ... matches. Nevertheless, it is clear that for some countries there are genuine safety and security concerns that need to be addressed.”

Australia and England are the two countries which have expressed most concern about playing in Zimbabwe. “This visit gives every country and other key stakeholders the chance to put on the table any concerns they may have,” Speed added. “We will be able to judge for ourselves the work that is taking place to deal with these issues.

“Ultimately it will allow a considered and fact-based judgement to be made about safety and security risk that might be present in the country.”

An Australian tour to Zimbabwe was called off in March after their government advised citizens not to travel to the country because of violence. (AFP)

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