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Last Updated:  Saturday, 15 February, 2003, 10:30 GMT

World Cup crisis timeline
BBC Sport Online charts all the twists and turns of cricket's involvement in the Zimbabwe crisis.

March 2002

Australia cancel their scheduled tour of Zimbabwe citing safety concerns following the controversial re-election of President Robert Mugabe.

But a Zimbabwe government spokesman says the decision is political after Australian Prime Minister John Howard is a key mover in Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth.

August 2002

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) along with other major nations, signs a Participating Nations Agreement with the ICC.

The contract commits the ECB to sending a full-strength team to fulfil all World Cup fixtures.

September 2002

The political issues surrounding Zimbabwe are matters for politicians
ICC president Malcolm Gray
Amidst ongoing concern, the ICC decides to send a delegation made up of representatives of the countries set to play in Zimbabwe to decide whether the country is safe.

But the game's governing body insists that only safety, rather than political, concerns will be taken into account.

November 2002

Pakistan complete a tour to Zimbabwe, the first international matches since England's trip 12 months previously.

A series without incident off the field of play convinces an ICC delegation to give the green light for World Cup matches to go ahead.

December 2002

The British government gradually increases pressure on English cricket authorities to pull out of the match, fearing that it will be seen as a message of support for Mugabe.

However, Prime Minister Tony Blair stresses that the government has no power to force a boycott.

Cricket boards in the other five nations say they will play in Zimbabwe if it is considered safe, the Australian board going against government advice.

Fears grow that , made up of ICC claims for compensation and expenses if Zimbabwe pull out of their tour of England.

January 2003

Only at the 59th minute of the 11th hour did the government make their concerns clear
ECB chief executive
Tim Lamb

7th: The British government says no compensation will be paid to the ECB if England withdraw from the game in Harare, despite fears that fines and compensation could amount to 10m.

14th: The ECB announces at Lord's that the Zimbabwe match will take place. Protesters delay the press conference for almost three hours.

24th: Following a second visit to check security, an ICC executive board meeting confirms that the matches should go ahead.

27th: England's players announce they want their Harare fixture moved to South Africa.

29th: Players' representative Richard Bevan says it is untenable for international cricket to be held in Zimbabwe.

30th: The Zimbabwe Cricket Union says visiting teams will not be required to shake hands with Mugabe. The ICC confirms Zimbabwe and Kenya as venues.

February 2003:

4th: ECB officials, now in South Africa, request to switch the Harare match.

Australia say they plan to go ahead with their match in Bulawayo.

5th: The Australian government renews its call for a switch of venue, saying players will be used as "pawns by President Mugabe in a propaganda campaign".

The ZCU threatens a tit-for-tat boycott against England if its home game is switched.

6th: The World Cup technical committee rejects England's request to move the game to South Africa.

7th: Judge Albie Sachs rejects England's 'final' appeal.

8th: The ECB delays a decision on whether to boycott the Harare match, but cancels the England team's planned flight to Zimbabwe.

9th: The ECB says it has received new information on safety and security in Zimbabwe, including a death threat letter to players and their families.

10th: ICC president Malcom Gray sets England a 1400 GMT deadline for a final decision. Nothing happens.

11th: The ICC cancels the Harare match after the ECB refuses to travel to Zimbabwe. The ICC allows England a second appeal.

13th: Instead of playing the match, the England and Zimbabwe teams spend the day training.

14th: The ICC technical committee spends seven hours considering a submission from the ECB.

15th: The ICC technical committee rules that England cannot have the game switched and awards the four points to Zimbabwe.

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