The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The International Cricket Council is playing empire, it is not playing cricket. The time has come to move the headquarters of cricket away from Lordís

White domination of the world, ever since it began in the 17th century, has been marked by double standards. Ideas like freedom, justice, equality were good for ďhomeĒ consumption, but never to be put into practice in the colonies. The tradition continues. The International Cricket Council remains largely a white-dominated body. And its double standards are enough to take oneís breath away. It gave the English team management time to decide whe- ther it would play in Zimbabwe. The match scheduled to be played in Harare was not played. It is not clear yet if England has forfeited the match and lost four points. The English team is reluctant to play in Zimbabwe because of security reasons. This argument, on the face of it, is a spurious one. There is no denying that Mr Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, is a tyrant and that democratic rights are non-existent for both the blacks and the whites of the country. This cannot be a good enough reason for not playing in Zimbabwe. If it is, then England should not be playing in Pakistan. England or Britain should object to the Olympic games being held in countries where democracy does not exist. If law and order are at the root of the reluctance, then England should show the same hesitation about playing in any third world country. The fact of the matter is that the nature of the political regime has little or nothing to do with sports. The boycott of South Africa was based on reasons that transcended the political; moreover, it was unanimous.

Englandís reluctance is grounded elsewhere. There is a widespread feeling among the white settlers that Mr Mugabeís regime is treating them unfairly and is expropriating them from their land. The controversy is rooted in history. It is entirely possible to argue that the white settlers are an imposition and that the land they now claim to own is based on nothing more than the right of conquest. That right no longer exists. Mr Mugabe is trying to give the land back to their rightful owners, the natives of the country. He is, in fact, expropriating the expropriators. The white settlers are showing their lack of integration with Zimbabwean society by falling back on London. The indecision of the English cricket team about playing in Harare is a product of this controversy.

The ICC has embarrassed itself by not penalizing England in the first instance. On a previous occasion, during the World Cup of 1996, when Australia and West Indies refused to play in Sri Lanka for security reasons, they forfeited their matches. This makes the special treatment being given to England in 2003 all the more glaring. It raises the suspicion that the ICC is run by a small cabal from within the Long Room at Lordís. Cricket spread with the British Empire, but it has now acquired an independent and autonomous status. It can no longer be run by the prejudices that prevailed when Britannia ruled the waves. The ICC is playing empire, it is not playing cricket. The time has come perhaps to physically move the headquarters of cricket away from Lordís. Maybe the second city of the British empire is cricketís best home.

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