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 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 15:39 GMT
Bacher calls for guidance
Alec Stewart watches Ricky Ponting bat
England and Australia could forfeit valuable points
Cricket World Cup director Ali Bacher has called on politicians in England and Australia to decide whether their teams should play in Zimbabwe.

Both the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) have been left to make up their own minds on the dilemma.

Why is cricket being seen as a soft target when there are no sanctions in place?

ECB chief executive
Tim Lamb
But, unless they can prove that Zimbabwe is unsafe to visit, they could forfeit the matches, and could be liable for compensation.

"You cannot expect a sports body to make a decision of that magnitude," said Bacher, a former South Africa captain.

"That decision should rest with the respective governments."

All six countries scheduled to play the country sent representatives as part of an International Cricket Council (ICC) inspection in November.

They pronounced the country safe for players, but admitted the situation could deteriorate before the first match on 10 February.

Cricket World Cup director Dr Ali Bacher
My personal view is that the matches will take place in Zimbabwe

Dr Ali Bacher
Bacher confirmed the ECB's fear that it could be forced to pay compensation if England were to pull out, with the host nation and sponsors out of pocket.

"If it was just one game then it would not be millions of pounds, but if it was a few games then it could be a lot of money," he said.

There is a contingency plan to move matches away from Zimbabwe, Bacher admitted, but he said it was one of many emergency plans for a tournament of this size.

ECB chief executive Tim Lamb has called for a meeting with government ministers to resolve the issue.

"We are a business, a non profit-making organisation, and every single penny of surplus we make is ploughed back into the game," he said.

"We could find ourselves in a situation where we have to pay compensation ... if we don't play the fixture and I don't think the government understands that.

The government has countered the "door is open" for direct discussions with the ECB.

Lamb admitted the board would have little option but to withdraw if the government makes it clear it does not want the team to travel.

The ECB are believed to already have a plan in place to invite an alternative opponent should Zimbabwe pull out of their tour of England next June.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 ECB chief Tim Lamb
"We've had no direct communication with the government"
 Cricket World Cup director Ali Bacher
"Responsiblity should be with governments"
 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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30 Dec 02 | Politics
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