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England offer compensation

Harare, March 29 (AFP): The ECB will pay the Zimbabwe Cricket Union an undisclosed sum in compensation following the England players’ boycott of their World Cup fixture, due to have been played here on February 13.

The ECB chairman David Morgan, who made a two-day visit to the Zimbabwe capital, told his counterpart Peter Chingoka that the compensation was purely a goodwill gesture and it did not imply liability by the ECB.

The money will help cover hotel expenses, catering wastage, security, ticket sales and administrative costs, which still had t o be met after England failed to show up. But the ECB may yet face a detailed claim by the ZCU.

Morgan stated that “England did not come to Zimbabwe because of safety concerns only, and there was no political agenda.” The reason was the players anxieties following a threatening letter from “sons and daughters of Zimbabwe.”

Chingoka took the opportunity, though, of repeating to him the ZCU assertion that Harare was, and remains, a safe place to play cricket.

The ECB “goodwill” offer was clearly the beginning of a healing process between the two cricket nations ahead of a 10 week tour to England and Ireland by Zimbabwe expected to begin at the end of April.

However, approval for this tour now rests with the Zimbabwe government’s sports and recreation commission, which should make its decision in the next few days. There has been speculation in Harare that president Robert Mugabe might veto the tour to England in retaliation for the World Cup boycott.

Zimbabwe are scheduled to play several counties before two Tests, at Lord’s and at Durham. This will be followed by 10 days in Ireland and then a tri-series involving England, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

An extended Zimbabwe fixture list — until 2011 — includes England making a return tour in November next year.

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