March 18, 2003

Threat of boycott hangs over Zimbabwe tour to England

The aftermath of England's decision not to go Harare to play against Zimbabwe in the World Cup continues to make the headlines. There is now a suggestion that Zimbabwe might retaliate by pulling out of their forthcoming tour to England.

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union has a board meeting on March 29th when the question of the tour to England will be discussed. There are fears that the ZCU will come under government pressure not to fulfil the scheduled fixtures.

However, chairman Peter Chingoka has indicated that his organisation are likely to go ahead with the tour, but the final decision will not rest with the cricket body. All international tours by sporting organisations in Zimbabwe have to be sanctioned by the government-appointed Sports Commission.

"The British have asked us to reconfirm our tour and we are having discussions. An official position will be made after our board meeting. We will then seek a blessing from the Sports Commission," Chingoka said.

One factor working for the tour to go ahead is that the ZCU are desperately short of money and rely on income from foreign tours to balance the books.

In addition, it would be interesting to see if the ICC would award the series to England if Zimbabwe refused to fulfil their fixtures in the ICC Test championship. The points were awarded to Zimbabwe when England missed the Harare World Cup match, while Kenya's path to the semi-finals was made easier by the fact that they were awarded the points when New Zealand refused to go to Nairobi to play their group match.