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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April, 2003, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
ECB ready for Zimbabwe protests
Headingley ground authorities carry the injured steward from the ground
A Headingley steward was injured during a 2001 crowd invasion

English cricket authorities are braced for protests when Zimbabwe's tour begins early next month.

Activists could invade cricket pitches in an effort to highlight alleged human rights abuses by Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's regime.

The Observer newspaper quoted a leading activist saying "hit-and-run tactics" could include "hundreds of people invading the pitch wearing either black armbands or cricket flannels covered in fake blood".

A spokesman for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) told BBC Sport: "We have had discussions with the police and ground authorities to ensure suitable security is in place."

As long as the demonstrations are peaceful they will not be an issue for concern
Richard Bevan
PCA chief executive

The England team pulled out of their scheduled World Cup match in Harare in February following heavy pressure from Mugabe's opponents.

However, players representatives are satisfied with the security arragements in place for this series.

"We're lucky to be living in a country where we can demonstrate," said Richard Bevan, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers Association (PCA).

"As long as the demonstrations are peaceful they will not be an issue for concern."

Heath Streak's side begin their tour with a match against British Universities at Edgbaston on 3 May.

They play two Tests, at Lord's and Durham's Riverside ground, and at least six matches in the one-day NatWest Series, which also involves South Africa.

Former Sports Minister Kate Hoey called earlier this month for the tour to be cancelled.

"How can anyone sit watching the runs mount up on the scoreboard when at the same time the score for killings in state-sponsored violence is rapidly rising," she wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

That appears at odds with government thinking however.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell told representatives of the ECB at a meeting in January the government's opposition was to sides visiting Zimbabwe rather than teams touring the UK.

The last time serious crowd trouble affected international matches in England, a Headingley ground steward was hospitalised following a pitch invasion by Pakistan fans in 2001.

England were forced to concede the match as the crowds could not quickly be brought under control, and the scenes were mirrored at three other games.

However, a government review group decided no new legislation was required to deal with the problem.

Placard-waving protesters against cricketing ties with Zimbabwe disrupted a media conference at Lord's in January.

Links to more Eng v Zim 2003 stories


Olonga happier in England
16 Apr 03  |  Cricket
Zimbabwe set to tour England
15 Apr 03  |  Cricket
New crowd laws ruled out
27 Sep 01  |  Cricket

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