England in South Africa 2009-10 July 21, 2009

ECBs seek clarification over Wanderers dispute

Cricinfo staff

The England & Wales Cricket Board has asked Cricket South Africa to clarify the status of the Wanderers in Johannesburg, the original venue for this winter's fourth Test, following reports that the venue had been stripped of its international status after a dispute between CSA and the Gauteng Cricket Board.

The GCB had levelled allegations of mismanagement of the 2009 IPL at CSA chief executive Gerald Majola, the BCCI and the tournament organisers soon after the league ended. The GCB was told it would only have its hosting rights reinstated following an apology and that hasn't been forthcoming.

There are three matches affected; the first Twenty20 on November 13 which has been moved to Durban, the first ODI on November 20 now shifted to Bloemfontein and the fourth Test starting on January 14 which will be played in Port Elizabeth.

Although the ECB originally stated that the scheduling was a matter for the home board, David Collier, the ECB chief executive, has now written to Majola to emphasise the need to cater for the many thousand of England supporters who have already made travel arrangements for the winter series.

"The possible changes to the itinerary clearly present some logistical challenges for the team as well as the travelling England spectators," said Collier. "We are expecting a large number of England supporters in South Africa this winter and it is vital that we establish the exact position as quickly as possible. If there are changes to the itinerary we have asked Cricket South Africa to enter into urgent discussions with SA Tourism so that any additional costs can be mitigated and covered for travelling supporters."

With its steeply tiered stands and "bullring" atmosphere, the Wanderers is one of the landmark venues in world cricket, and a favourite with England fans after a thrilling series-clinching victory in 2004-05, in which Matthew Hoggard claimed seven final-day wickets.

"These changes have been made in terms of a resolution taken last week by CSA's members forum to suspend all international matches at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg," said CSA president, Dr Mtutuzeli Nyoka.

"The forum decided that the suspension will stand until the Gauteng Cricket Board apologises for its unwarranted criticism of the management of the 2009 IPL hosted in South Africa, and until it presents CSA with its conditions for hosting future international matches at the Wanderers Stadium which fall under the auspices of CSA.

"These two conditions have not been met, and consequently CSA has informed the ECB that the venues for three international matches against England later this year, which were scheduled for the Wanderers Stadium, have been changed."

Gerald Majola, the CSA chief executive, said talks were on with the England board to reach a solution. "David Collier, my counterpart at the ECB, has asked for clarification following enquiries by British travel agents who have sold packages based on the previous venues," Majola said. "The venue changes were made on the basis of a minimum impact in this regard, and we are in discussions with the ECB about this."