PCA Issues Response To Zimbabwe Tour Proposals — 09/09/2004
The Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) today responded to the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announcement regarding the proposed tour to Zimbabwe. The PCA, which represents first class players in England and Wales, recognises the reasons behind the ECB's decision. However, while sympathetic and understanding of the ECB's position, the PCA has continued reservations about the circumstance surrounding the tour.
At the executive board meeting of the ICC in March this year, it was agreed that with the exception of safety and security or government intervention, the ECB would be in breach of the future tours programme regulation and subject to penalties including possible suspension from the ICC if the England team did not undertake the tour.
The ECB rightly asserts that the impact of suspension on cricket's infrastructure would be devastating. Although the PCA believes it is unlikely that this penalty will be enforced, while any threat does exist that England could be suspended from international cricket, the PCA and the players accept that the ECB has no option but to proceed with the tour.
In addition, the PCA and the Federation of International Cricket Associations (FICA) are closely monitoring the outcome of the International Cricket Council (ICC) investigation into racism in Zimbabwean cricket. The report is due back to the ICC board in mid October, with findings and appropriate recommendations.
Tim May, chief executive of FICA, said: "FICA is monitoring the entire situation very closely on behalf of the international players.
"We particularly welcome the appointments of Goolam Vahanvati and Steven Majiedt to conduct the independent review into allegations of racism in cricket in Zimbabwe. Both men are established figures within the Indian and South African legal systems, and will give added rigour and integrity to the presiding panel."
The PCA and FICA have supported the sacked players throughout and are deeply concerned at the nature of the allegations that have been made and the impact upon the careers and livelihoods of the cricketers and their families.
The PCA and the England Players await with interest the ICC report on this issue, which it is understood will be presented to the ICC Executive Board in mid October.
For the England team, this will not be a normal tour, with the amount of days being spent in Zimbabwe being reduced to an absolute minimum. The players will not be involved in publicity activity, including official functions or the meeting of State dignitaries. Any attempt to undermine this agreement will result in an immediate review of the players' position.
Richard Bevan, group chief executive of the PCA, said: "In Cape Town during last year's World Cup, the ECB cancelled the tour for safety reasons. The players had moral, security and contractual concerns at the time and these issues are still very real today.
"We are pleased that the ECB has been at pains to stress that any player not wishing to tour Zimbabwe for reasons of personal conscience will not be penalised.
"Throughout the past year, the PCA has made ongoing representation to the ECB to ensure that the players' views and concerns around the Zimbabwe issue are understood fully.
"In recent weeks we have been able to work together on the issue cooperatively and professionally, in particular with David Morgan and John Carr."
The ECB security trip to Zimbabwe to assess safety and security issues - which will include an independent security expert and the PCA's Richard Bevan - will take place in the lead-up to the Tour.
Bevan added: "The ECB and PCA have liased on all these issues at the highest possible level - including discussions with the Foreign Office, Jack Straw and Tessa Jowell, secretary state for culture, media and sport.
"The decision to tour in no way indicates that players are seeking to ignore the human rights violations in Zimbabwe. We should look instead to the Government to provide the lead on any political or moral imperative. They have not intervened on this issue, and continue to allow trade of many descriptions with Zimbabwe."
Michael Vaughan, England captain, said: "All the players are aware of the serious nature of this situation. I am aware that deciding to tour is a huge decision for any player. We will continue to work closely with the ECB to ensure the players' situation is fully understood and a satisfactory outcome is arrived at."
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For more information, contact:
Neil Coffey or Richard Davies at BANC on +44 (0) 1865 310 565;
Richard Bevan at the PCA on +44 (0) 7860 474 767; or
Jimmy Hindson at PCA on +44 (0) 7866 241241