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Last Updated:  Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 22:37 GMT

Zimbabwe matches to go ahead
ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed
Speed said safety of players and officials is the ICC's only concern
England's World Cup match against Zimbabwe will not be moved to South Africa, the International Cricket Council has confirmed.

The ICC discussed the matter on Thursday and announced England's match on 13 February, and five others in the tournament, would go ahead as planned.

England's players said on Monday they wanted the match moved, but English cricket chief David Morgan did not submit a formal request on their behalf.

This meant the ICC did not have to make a decision on Zimbabwe.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said: "The ICC is not a political organisation and does not make judgement on political issues.

There is a plan in place and it identifies the threats and identifies the risks
Malcolm Speed
ICC chief executive

"No team sought to have their matches relocated from Zimbabwe so no decision was required."

New Zealand have also been told their match against Kenya would go ahead in Nairobi, despite the Kiwis requesting a switch.

Speed said a report by American security consultants Kroll into the situation formed the basis of their decision.

"In relation to the potential to change matches the board has determined that player and official safety and security will be its sole criteria," he said.

"The Kroll report, which was discussed at length, was categorical in its ultimate assessment that it is safe and secure for all six matches in Zimbabwe to proceed as planned."

PCA chief Richard Bevan
Players representative Richard Bevan is fighting a losing battle

There has been a growing reluctance among players to travel to Zimbabwe because of President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms.

Speed said the ICC welcomed their concern and all teams would be briefed on security prior to the tournament.

"The board recognises there is a heightened level of insecurity in the world as a result of political factors and the impact of terrorism," Speed said.

"It also recognises cricket's stakeholders are entitled to express strong views about this issue, and this has been the case with England and New Zealand and to a lesser extent Australia."

We have reserved our position depending on any deterioration of the safety and security situation
ECB director of corporate affairs John Read

The ICC decision will not please England players, who had hoped to sway the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) through their representative Richard Bevan.

The Professional Cricketers' Association will release a statement at 1930 GMT.

Bevan had argued it was not morally right to play in Zimbabwe, but was unable to convince the ECB to request a venue switch.

But ECB director of corporate affairs John Read defended the decision not to request a venue switch.

"[ECB chairman] David Morgan did put on record in very strong terms the concerns that the whole cricketing community should have should anything go wrong in any of the matches," he said.

"We have reserved our position depending on any deterioration of the safety and security situation in Zimbabwe.

"If it does discernably deteriorate then we will make representations directly to the ICC and may ask for the match to be moved.

"We are not necessarily looking to get out of this match."

Read added England captain Nasser Hussain was "very understanding" of the ECB's position.





Links to more England stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Jonathan Agnew
"This is by no means the end of the matter"


ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed
"All teams will receive a detailed security briefing"


PCA managing director Richard Bevan
"The decision flies in the face of common sense"



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