February 21, 2003

New Zealand has nothing to be sorry for in Kenyan stance

While there was no surprise in the International Cricket Council's executive committee's decision that New Zealand would have to forfeit their points for the non-playing of their scheduled match against Kenya today in Nairobi, there was some surprise that the decision took so long.

Matters of commerce and law obviously came into question on the matter, just as they have clearly come into the answer.

Even if New Zealand had not beaten South Africa earlier in the week, and were seriously in doubt of making the World Cup Super Six stage, it is fair to imagine that support in New Zealand at least would still have been with New Zealand Cricket in their choice of action.

There is still the chance the issue could rebound on the side. It would only take two rain-affected results to put the kibosh on their prospects.

But given the quality of their research, and the information they had, New Zealand Cricket had little other option than to stand fast.

What will be of interest is the ramifications of that choice at administrative level. NZC chief executive Martin Snedden was unavailable for comment today, despite his staff having said they would make an announcement.

The consequences of any monetary punishment dished out by the world body will be significant in New Zealand.

In order to meet the raised levels of payment for the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association, NZC were forced to allocate some of the projected income from their share of World Cup profits into the payment scheme.

If that is not as great as anticipated due to penalties being invoked then NZC has some serious thinking to do.

With that in mind its recourse in law will be sure to keep the wheels of intrigue grinding during the forthcoming winter, which apart from the actions of players involved in county cricket in England, was shaping as a relatively quiet time.

No doubt the wise heads of the ICC thought long and hard about their decision, considered all the evidence and discarded that put forward by New Zealand - which given New Zealand's reputation for being in the wrong place at the wrong time is a pretty big move - on the basis that it was insufficient to warrant their concern.

All cricket lovers will hope that this is not a decision that rebounds on the ICC and on cricket generally.

As New Zealanders are only too well aware, it is possible to have all the best security and all the best intentions in the world, but if someone wants to inflict damage they will find a way to do it. This is not kow-towing to extremists, it is taking a sensible and careful stand based on the best information and on past experience.

New Zealand has cause to be cautious and it is unreasonable to expect any other stance than that which they have made. Hopefully that will be acknowledged in any future judgments, real or otherwise.

Comments