JOHANNESBURG: England have accepted an International Cricket Council (ICC) offer for an up-to-date security briefing on strife-torn Zimbabwe, suggesting the team are still considering playing their World Cup match there.
An ICC spokesman told Reuters yesterday that both England – who made a final appeal yesterday to have the Harare match switched because of safety worries – and Australia had asked for a meeting.
“England and Australia decided to take up the ICC offer,” he said. “They will receive up-to-date, in-depth information.
“It will be very detailed, explaining how security around them will work, from when they arrive to when they play and when they leave.”
The World Cup opening ceremony takes place today, with the opening match a day later. South Africa will stage 46 of the 54 games, with six scheduled for Zimbabwe and two in Kenya.
The controversy-plagued tournament has been dogged by arguments over possible match boycotts for weeks, with political and social unrest in Zimbabwe the main cause.
England are due to hear whether their appeal against playing in Harare on Feb 13 has been successful around 1700 GMT on Friday.
South African judge Albie Sachs's decision will be binding.
If the appeal fails, the team will then meet today to decide whether to forfeit the match, a decision which would badly damage their hopes of reaching the second round of the World Cup.
It would also leave the ECB facing demands for million of pounds in compensation.
ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed made the offer of last-minute briefings by security experts on Thursday, after the World Cup technical committee rejected the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) initial request to move the game.
Speed argued that many of England's concerns about political and social unrest in Zimbabwe were based on "hearsay, radio reports, newspaper reports".
No security briefing has been requested by New Zealand, who have refused point-blank to play against Kenya in Nairobi on Feb 21. – Reuters
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