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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 21:04 GMT

Are England right to pull out?
England's cricketers remain in Cape Town after pulling out of Thursday's day World Cup opener against Zimbabwe scheduled to take place in Harare.

Are they right to pull out of the match?

The England and Wales Cricket Board has asked for the game to be played elsewhere later in the tournament after raising fresh safety fears.

But International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed said that it was unlikely that the game would be switched to another venue at a later date.

England could now forfeit their points from the game, and it could draw into question Zimbabwe's planned tour of England in the summer.

Is a boycott the right decision?

This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appears below.

Politics should be kept out of cricket. Pakistan has played against India on Indian soil whenever a tour has been scheduled. So why can't England play against Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe?

I tell you what, they are afraid of being beaten. Mugabe was elected in a general election by the Zimbabwean people. If they want Mugabe to head their country, who are the English to object?
Usman Shahid, Lahore, Pakistan

The right decision in the end! Think the whole saga is a disgrace, England should have settled this issue a long time ago! I believe Duncan Fletcher and Nasser Hussain have shown poor leadership.

I believe that this saga has discredited the World Cup, and England in the long run will pay a high price for this move. Nonetheless this was the right decision and I sincerely hope that the boys do well and give a good account of England in this competition.
Wally, UK, London

I believe England have made the right decision, but I do not believe for one minute that the decision to pull out should be blamed on safety reasons. Harare is a safer city than Johannesburg or Cape Town, so put it down to moral reasons and common sense, not safety!!
Michael Williams, Australia (ex Zimbabwe)

The England team have made the right decision. I can't believe that the ICC would have them go to Zimbabwe after death threats have been made.

I have always thought that sport and politics should be separate but when people are threatened it's gone too far to say that. It is a crying shame that this has happened and it's equally a shame that there are such things happening in Zimbabwe.

Let's hope that the international community can expend as much effort sorting that country's problems out as it is over Iraq.
Janice, UK

With a little more time now available, the ECB and ICC should appoint a mediator to try to broker a solution, instead of digging in for a long battle from their respective trenches.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne has a mediation scheme/panel of mediators that could be used. The mediator (or mediators) does not have to come from a cricket background. What is needed is a person with a sports background, who is neutral, diplomatic and well respected, preferably with experience of mediating disputes.
Jonathan Haydn-Williams, London

The English are an absolute disgrace to world cricket. Australia have acted professionally - when they realised their game wasn't going to be switched, they agreed to play in Zimbabwe.

England, on the other hand, have whined and complained and are going to ruin the World Cup. The ICC should stand up to them and take severe action. If I were the ICC, I'd throw England straight out of the World Cup and do a service to the rest of the cricket-loving world.
Chaitanya, Durban

England's decision is a not only a blow for Mugabe, but should also make the "ostrich-sensed" ICC and ECB rethink their stands.

Firstly, it was an ill-thought decision to host the games in Kenya and Zimbabwe, when the whole world was aware of the situation there. In fact even now the ICC should reschedule all the Zimababwe and Kenya matches to South Africa
Sathish Dev, UK

The ECB's decision is correct in my opinion. It is unfair to ask our team to go in to potentially hostile circumstances. Our players are human after all, and have lives outside of cricket, including families.

I ask would the England football team have been put in the same situation. Good luck to the team for the tournament.
Mark Le Poidevin, Guernsey

One can appreciate England's concerns, but what will happen if someday, due to an alleged threat perception in London or other cities, teams were to cancel their tour of England? How would you feel then?
Ramesh, India

I am unsure if the reasons that England publicly state are a true or false reflection of what is the real reason for their withdrawal from the Zimbabwe match.

What I do know is that the political climate in Robert Mugabe's country is not the kind of place where a gentleman's game like cricket ought to be played.
Clint Martin, Canada

This was the only decision that could be made
Andrew Black, Edinburgh

I am so proud of the team's decision. They clearly gave the issues much serious thought, and in the end were willing to sacrifice their own personal advancement for their principles.

The ICC clearly believes they live in a world where there is no evil - I feel so proud of the team for reminding them that they bear responsibility for issues beyond bats and balls.
Ruth, USA (ex-UK)

England has every right to decide whether they want to play or not. This could be a first such instance in the game of cricket, but similar actions were taken by many other countries during other games including Olympics.

However England should be ready to pay the price for their sacrifice and lose the points. At the end of the day they should not forget that a game is a game.
Sunny, USA

This was the only decision that could be made. It has brought international attention to the plight of Zimbabwe, and can only go on to harm Mugabe. However the already impoverished Zimbabweans need more than a dozen Englishmen to show their concerns. The international community must do more for these starving people.
Andrew Black, Edinburgh

If England played in Zimbabwe, Mugabe would take credit and there would be a real risk of riots. His regime would take it as a sign that the international community including the UK wasn't sufficiently bothered by his disregard of human rights to alter its behaviour. So the boycott is right.
Stephen Howie, Cambridge, UK

If England played in Zimbabwe, Mugabe would take credit and there would be a real risk of riots. His regime would take it as a sign that the international community including the UK wasn't sufficiently bothered by his disregard of human rights to alter its behaviour. So the boycott is right.
Stephen Howie, Cambridge, UK

Yes the England team were right to pull out but it should have been because of the human rights violations of Zimbabweans, and not because of death threats.
Danny, UK

This must have completely ruined any chance England had of doing well in this Cup
Patrick Mason, Tunbridge Wells

I feel proud to be English again, well done for finally making the right decision and showing others the way!
Simon, UK

It is about time that commonsense prevailed. The vile dictatorship of Robert Mugabe (not a government in the democratic sense of the word) is destroying a beautiful country with fantastic people.

If there was any serious threat of violence against players, spectators or even protestors outside the stadium, then the match had to be moved to a safer venue. One death as a result of trouble around a World Cup game should result in every member of the ICC World Cup charged with something like manslaughter or culpable homicide.

Nobody, apart from the players, will emerge from this with any credit. The Hon T.M. Lamb should have demanded more action from HM Government, but Mr Blair was also right when he said it was not for his Government to get involved in a sporting issue when no trade embargos or sanctions against Zimbabwe were in place. And these, of course, would cause further hardship to the neediest people in the country.

The ICC dare not do anything to upset Pakistan and India - who take great delight in refusing to play one another on safety grounds - so they acted as bullies. With hindsight, they should have acted immediately after the last Zimbabwe general election to move the fixtures because it was clear that conditions were not going to get better.
Joe, UK

The boycott is definitely the right decision and it should have been made a long time ago. We should not be sending a message to Mugabe that the situation is normal when he is persecuting and starving the citizens of his country for his own political survival.
Ian Roberts, Wimbledon, London

I know very little about cricket but feel that they made the right decision
Ian Byrnes, Guildford

Finally they have made the right decision - no thanks to the ECB or ICC. Why it was a matter for debate is beyond me. Mugabe is a man killing his own people because they want out of his world of corruption, torture, starvation & bigotry. I seem to remember a similar situation in South Africa called apartheid; when no sportsman was allowed to play in the country due to an oppressive, tortuous & bigoted regime.

Zimbabwe was the bread basket of Africa; lush, fertile, free & productive. All that is gone now. To say England is a disgrace to cricket for not playing in Zimbabwe is sick. To play there cheapens humanity and our dignity. Freedom & democracy must come before money and certainly cricket.
Melissa, London & Cape Town

England are just now being pathetic. The ICC should stick to their guns. If it were left to me I'd sling them out of the Tournament. After all they got no talent, no star players, & as much chance of winning it as the other minnows.
Nasser Khan, UK

Of course the decision is the right one, but it should have been made months ago - on moral grounds, not on the spurious pretext of a "threatening letter". I am a member of the MCC but I can summon up no interest whatsoever in this competition. I have found the appalling behaviour in this whole matter of everyone involved in the management of English cricket to be an outrage to everything the game of cricket was originally meant to stand for.
Antony Craig, London

I know very little about cricket but feel that they made the right decision. If you see a Zimbabwe player wearing a black band on his arm to make a political statement. This statement would be enough for me not to play.
Ian Byrnes, Guildford (Irish)

Yes they are right, and if I was Nasser, I'd be tempted to bring the boys back home right now
Paul, Basingstoke

It is a never ending farce, I cannot believe the English team would raise safety as their reason for not playing in Harare, it's an absolute mockery of sport in general which I believe should not be used to send out a political message, nothing can be gained from this boycott. Having lived in Harare for 18 years of my life and having been there recently I find it still even today quite a safe place, much safer than Cape Town or Jo'burg or in fact London itself. Come on English Cricket Team and the ECB - get real.

The English team have been put in an impossible position and I am pleased they have found a legitimate reason not to play in Zimbabwe. I support them 100%
Brian Arnott, Eastbourne E Sussex

Yes they are right, and if I was Nasser, I'd be tempted to bring the boys back home right now. How can they honestly be expected to be anything like in the right frame of mind to play cricket when they and their family's lives have been threatened? This whole shambles is political and financial and has absolutely nothing to do with sport. Bring 'em home Naz and stick two fingers up to the clueless idiots on the ICC and ECCB
Paul, Basingstoke

The cancellation of the Match against Zimbabwe was the only logical conclusion. If England were to play in Harare then it would be advocating Mugabe's regime.
Lisa Rees, Swansea

I think it is very sad that the game isn't going ahead. I think they should have played in Harare - even if they took a private security force with them! They could have made known their moral concerns and their solidarity with the forces of "good".

It seems incredible that England won't go but all other teams will. This must have completely ruined any chance England had of doing well in this Cup. Their morale must be shot to pieces.
Patrick Mason, Tunbridge Wells

Absolutely. People say that sport and politics should not mix and that by attending we draw attention to the problems. To be honest not going speaks volumes.
Andy Male, London

If we hold cricket sanctions on Zimbabwe nothing will be gained. Mr Blair should stop all trade with Mugabe and not just cricket. Anyway, England can thank you for the excuse - we are now sure of victory so one less worry.
Rodger, UK

What an astonishingly brave thing to do. Olonga and Flower have risked a huge amount to make the statement that they have. It really makes a mockery of the shilly-shallying and half-baked manoeuvring of the ECB and ICC around legal and financial liabilities.

I feel some sympathy for Nasser and his team, as I am sure some of the more sentient members of the squad would be prepared to make such a statement, but their paymasters at the ECB are pushing them to keep schtum.

Nevertheless, the example set by these men is one that Team England should look upon with some humility and consider if they are men enough to do something similar.
William Greswell, London, UK

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