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 Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 08:25 GMT
Graveney backs boycott
England coach Duncan Fletcher (left), David Graveney (centre) and captain Nasser Hussain
England's management team have differing views
England's chairman of selectors David Graveney has said he would back a player boycott of Zimbabwe during the forthcoming World Cup.

But skipper Nasser Hussain claims the players are not well enough informed to make the decision alone.

If England boycott their games as a political decision, they will lose the points

Malcolm Speed
ICC chief executive

England are due to face Zimbabwe in Harare on 13 February in their opening group game of the tournament.

Players and officials face a moral dilemma in the face of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's controversial regime.

However, cricket's governing body, the International Cricket Council, has assured teams of their safety.

Graveney said: "I hope our cricketers take a serious look at the whole issue and implications before they sign their World Cup contracts.

"Sportsmen can't live life in a bubble. Every player has to make up his own mind.
England captain Nasser Hussain
Hussain thinks the government should decide

"I can't tell them 'don't go' but if you asked me as an individual I would not go to Zimbabwe.

"And I think people are being presumptuous to assume our cricketers will just jump on a plane and go," he told the News of the World newspaper.

Graveney, head of the English players' union, is also joint chief executive of the international players' association (FICA).

His Australian counterpart Tim May was part of the ICC delegation that visited Zimbabwe and pronounced it safe in November.

"I will not be seeking assurances from players that they will go to Zimbabwe before we name our World Cup squad," Graveney went on.

"We'll do our job on a cricketing basis."

Hussain said: "It is faintly ridiculous to suppose that the England captain and management have the time to come to the informed moral judgement which it is necessary to make about going to Zimbabwe.

"I'm expected to make a major political judgement on whether or not I should lead the England cricket team to Zimbabwe or perhaps shake the president by the hand.

"It must be right that the decision is made at a higher level," he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

"The government should set up a body of some sort to make this moral decision on our behalf and we will then happily abide by it."

Former captain Graham Gooch agreed that the government and cricket authorities should get together and come to an informed decision.

"They know exactly what is happening in Zimbabwe and should take a line which is consistent with what the country wants," Gooch told BBC Five Live.

"But to put all the pressure on the individuals, I don't think is right."

Sports minister Richard Caborn has insisted the decision on whether teams should play in Zimbabwe must be made by the ICC.

But on Saturday, Cabinet minister Clare Short said the ICC decision to go ahead with the fixture in Zimbabwe was "deplorable and shocking".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 The BBC's Helen Simms
"The players may have to make the final decision"
 England chairman of selectors David Graveney
"I'm not seeking to unduly influence the players"
 ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed
"We believe it's safe to play there"
 VOTE RESULTS
Should England play cricket in Zimbabwe?

Yes
 28.57% 

No
 71.43% 

56962 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
Calls grow for World Cup matches in Zimbabwe to be boycotted

Zimbabwe decision

Background

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