Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Stars Are Left 'Exhausted' by Talks

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Stars Are Left 'Exhausted' by Talks

Article excerpt


ENGLAND'S " emotionally exhausted" cricketers finally left the meeting room for a couple of hours here today and began preparing all over again for their first World Cup engagement.

Any lingering possibility that Nasser Hussain's side might start the tournament, as scheduled, by playing Zimbabwe in Harare was apparently snuffed out last night when their bosses tackled tournament organisers once more over safety and security following a death threat letter.

The England and Wales Cricket Board's sole remaining target, it seemed, was to have Thursday's match declared void, with the four points equally shared, and to head off compensation claims which could cost the English game u9million.

But even as International Cricket Council officials were handed "new information" here, Hussain and Co could only wonder what damage a weekend of interminable talking would do to their chances of prospering in a competition that now looks more wide open than ever.

A thrilling three-run victory by the West Indies over hosts and second favourites South Africa in the opening match reminded England what is - or, perhaps, what might have been - possible for them.

Hussain's squad headed for the practice ground this afternoon for their first cricket outing since winning a warm-up match in East London on Thursday.

Since that game, they have had to weigh up the consequences of two failed attempts to move this week's fixture away from Harare, learned of a death threat made against them, heard talk of their families being targeted and spent more than 13 hours locked in the meeting room of their Cape Town hotel.

Incredibly, neither the players nor their representative were told about the death threat letter, from the 'Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe', for nearly three weeks while the ECB were having it checked out.

And the ICC now stand accused of supplying incorrect information, in connection with the security threat, and could face legal action from Lord's.

It, therefore, remains to be seen whether England will have the stamina and stomach to launch a worthy World Cup campaign - now starting, presumably, with Sunday's 'second' game against Holland in East London. …

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