The Zimbabwe Cricket Union has received with disappointment the news that the England and Wales Cricket Board has rejected the direction by the International Cricket Council to play in Zimbabwe, leading to the cancellation of tomorrow's match between Zimbabwe and England.
The Union is disappointed moreso for its players and the technical staff who have all worked very hard to ensure that they put up winning performances in all the Group-A matches of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 that Zimbabwe is hosting. Their readiness was evident in the match against Namibia on Monday.
The ZCU also shares the disappointment of all the ground staff who work hard to maintain the Harare Sports Club pitch at world standards, as was again evident during the match against Namibia.
It is unfortunate that all the plans by the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 Zimbabwe Committee to build on the successful hosting of the World Cup opener against Namibia on Monday now have to be put on hold.
However, the Union's disappointment is made bearable by the fact that it walked the extra mile to make the match against England a reality.
The ZCU Chairman Peter Chingoka, with legal adviser Alwyn Pichanick, went to Cape Town last Wednesday for the ICC's Event Technical Committee hearing of the ECB request to relocate the Zimbabwe-England match on the grounds of safety and security. That request was turned down, as was the subsequent appeal before Justice Albie Sachs.
Outside of the hearing and appeal sessions, the Zimbabwe delegation held private meetings with several representatives of the ECB and the English Professional Cricketers' Association.
This was with the view to reassuring them that it was and remains safe and secure for the England cricket team to fulfil its fixture in Harare.
Further to this, the ZCU Managing Director, Vince Hogg, even accepted an invitation from the ECB to address the England team in Cape Town, but was regrettably ignored for more than three hours without even an introduction.
Because the Event Technical Committee is now responsible for determining the consequences of the cancellation of the Zimbabwe-England match, the Union would like to assure all those who had bought tickets for the match that a statement will be made once there has been advice from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 Head Office.