Calcutta: The International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) security delegation, which visited Zimbabwe for an on-the-spot study, is likely to “recommend” that the six pool A World Cup fixtures be held as scheduled (February-March 2003) in that country.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, the “consensus” among the delegation — headed by chief executive Malcolm Speed — appears to be that the safety of both players and (match) officials “isn’t threatened at this point in time”.
That Pakistan have just completed an incident-free tour (Tests and ODIs) is clearly being seen “very positively”.
The ICC, it may be recalled, took the extraordinary step of deputing a delegation — comprising, among others, representatives of all six countries (including India’s S.K.Nair) slated to play in Zimbabwe — after major political and social unrest on Robert Mugabe’s home turf.
Besides India, the ‘affected’ countries are: Australia (which, by the way, cancelled a series in Zimbabwe), England, Holland, rookies Namibia and Pakistan.
While Namibia (February 10), England (February 13) and India (February 19) are to play Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club, Australia (February 24), Holland (February 28) and Pakistan (March 4) are scheduled to take the field at the Queen’s Ground in Bulawayo.
Besides nominees of the six countries, the delegation included “security officials” from principal hosts South Africa, a member of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit and representatives of an insurance firm.
One understands the delegation’s views are being “put together” by Speed and a statement will be issued once it has been endorsed by the six countries.
It’s not insignificant, perhaps, that the ICC has already warned countries, which refuse to play in Zimbabwe — assuming the fixtures aren’t re-located — of “legal action”.
Meanwhile, the World Cup’s organising committee is currently meeting in Johannesburg and, on the agenda, is the demand by Kenya for “financial aid” to host two matches in Nairobi.
“In keeping with the grant given everywhere else, a sum of Rands 150,000 ($ 15,000) has been earmarked for each fixture there. It’s to be seen whether that can be increased,” remarked Dr Ali Bacher, executive director of the World Cup, speaking exclusively Wednesday afternoon.
The matches in question are Kenya versus New Zealand (February 21) and Kenya against Sri Lanka (February 24). Both are pool B fixtures.