Calcutta: The International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) security delegation, which recently undertook a “fact-finding” visit to Zimbabwe, favours status quo over the hosting of six World Cup matches in that country next February-March.
The ICC chief executive, Malcolm Speed, is expected to make a formal announcement later this week.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, the delegation — which included top representatives of the six teams required to play there — has been “pretty unanimous” in agreeing that the “present situation” did not warrant Zimbabwe’s Pool A league matches to be shifted to South Africa, the tournament’s principal host.
The teams scheduled to visit Zimbabwe are: Namibia (February 10), England (February 13), India (February 19), Australia (February 24), Holland (February 28) and Pakistan (March 4). While the first three matches will be held in Harare, Bulawayo will stage the remaining three. Incidentally, Board secretary S.K. Nair was India’s nominee on the delegation.
“While the delegation does feel Zimbabwe’s political situation isn’t of the most healthy kind, directly commenting on that will be overstepping its brief…Strictly where safety of the players is concerned, though, there are no reservations — certainly not at this point in time,” is how a source put it.
Significantly, the local administration in both Harare (the capital) and Bulawayo has prepared a comprehensive “action plan.” That, apparently, is one of the factors which influenced the delegation — as also Pakistan’s just-ended incident-free tour of Zimbabwe.
With the Zimbabwe issue settled — for now, at least — the ICC’s focus is on Kenya. A security delegation will visit capital Nairobi, slated to host two league matches, for a “full-fledged review.”
n British minister’s view: Pg 18