England's Zimbabwe tour labelled 'amoral'

Last updated at 15:30 13 May 2004

Former England and Wales Cricket Board chief Des Wilson has attacked the International Cricket Council's "fundamentally amoral" stance on England's tour to Zimbabwe.

Wilson quit as chairman of the ECB's marketing advisory committee over the board's policy on England's tour of the strife-torn African country this autumn.

Now he has damned the ICC's "draconian and disproportionate" threats of sanctions should England refuse to fulfil their commitments on political grounds and insists their policy favours despotic regimes such as that of Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party.

"The message to cricket's administrators is clear: when you come to the ICC table, leave your conscience at home," he said.

"The ICC's position is that it requires suspension of all moral judgement and a protocol that works for dictatorships and not Westminster-style democracies."

Wilson, writing in the June edition of the Wisden Cricketer, believes fans of the game do not live in a "stadium oasis" where the sport itself is all that matters.

"The ICC has adopted a fundamentally amoral position supported by draconian powers. Robert Mugabe must be proud of it," he added.

Australians unhappy

Wilson's comments come as Australia arrive in the country for their Test tour.

Australia will face a depleted Zimbabwe side in a two-test series starting in Harare on May 22.

"They (ICC) have the power to act," said Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief executive Tim May May.

"If this cannot be resolved, the (10-nation test championship) programme should be thrown out and the top six nations should play against each other.

"Our players will go there with heavy hearts and a degree of reluctance and I can understand that.

"These matches will go down as test matches but they are not test matches."

Test-playing nations face heavy fines from the ICC if they withdraw from tours for reasons apart from safety and security.

Australia leg spinner Stuart MacGill made himself unavailable for the Zimbabwe tour because of moral reasons.

The Australian newspaper said the visit by Ricky Ponting's side to the African nation "shapes as the most farcical and pointless tour in the country's history".

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