Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

No Penalty If England Cancel Zimbabwe Tour

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

No Penalty If England Cancel Zimbabwe Tour

Article excerpt


ENGLAND will not be penalised financially by cricket's governing body if they call off next year's tour of Zimbabwe.

Their decision to pull out of last February's World Cup match in Harare because of safety fears could yet cost them more than [pounds sterling]1million in compensation.

But any decision to withdraw from next autumn's trip to Zimbabwe would not start the cash meter ticking again because tours, unlike major tournaments, are effectively private matters between two countries.

"There are no sanctions we would impose on anyone," said International Cricket Council president Ehsan Mani during his visit to Bangladesh to promote the forthcoming Under-19 World Cup.

England are already under pressure to cancel the Zimbabwe trip.

Lord MacLaurin, former chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board and now chairman of the national team's main sponsors, Vodafone, has described the idea of playing cricket in a country accused of human rights atrocities as "abhorrent".

Vodafone has a four-year contract with the ECB worth [pounds sterling]3m, and MacLaurin said recently: "We do not want to support a side that goes and plays in a country with the sort of regime that is reviled not just by this company but by many in the country.

"To do so would be abhorrent and not good for the brand image of Vodafone nor England cricket."

It seems highly unlikely the tour will go ahead, unless there are significant political changes in Zimbabwe.

But the ECB have so far stood firm against making a snap decision and nothing concrete is likely to come out of Lord's until January at the earliest.

David Morgan, the Board's chairman, responded to MacLaurin's comments in September by saying: "It makes no sense, 13 months before we are due to depart, to come out with a big statement. …

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