England boycotts Zimbabwe match

England captain Nasser Hussain (left) revealed that the debate over the issue, a highly emotional one considering the situation in Zimbabwe, even led to some of the players breaking down in tears.-— Pic,. AFP England captain Nasser Hussain (left) revealed that the debate over the issue, a highly emotional one considering the situation in Zimbabwe, even led to some of the players breaking down in tears.

First there was suspense over to go or not to go, and then the ICC put a full stop to the match, at least in Zimbabwe. Following weeks of hesitancy, the English team finally boycotted its Group `A' match against Zimbabwe in Harare on February 13.

England captain Nasser Hussain revealed that the debate over the issue, a highly emotional one considering the situation in Zimbabwe, even led to some of the players breaking down to tears. To make matters worse, the English side received death threats. One anonymous letter said, the players would return in coffins if they played in Zimbabwe. After the England side's clear answer, the ICC cancelled the game in Harare.

There has been an opinion that by playing in Zimbabwe, England would be seen as seeming to support President Mugabe's rule of oppression, where he has consistently shown a disregard for world opinion.

Mugabe, on his part, has accused Britain as a former colonialist power, that has sinister designs. Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms and last year's presidential elections, that were widely seen as rigged, has won him little sympathy though.

Meanwhile, there are concerns that the England refusal might spark reprisals that spilt in international cricket.

"Relationships are built on trusts. If you start believing that trust is not there, then you re-examine the relationship,'' said South African cricket chief Percy Sonn. At the time of writing, the ball was in the ICC technical panel's court.