Vol. 4 Num 327 Fri. April 30, 2004  

ICC wallops Wilson

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has issued a stinging response to a senior English cricket official who accused the sport's governing body of malevolent behaviour aimed at forcing England to tour Zimbabwe later this year.

Des Wilson resigned from the England and Wales Cricket Board's management board earlier this week after it became clear that the ECB would have little option but to fulfill its commitment to touring Zimbabwe.

Wilson had written a paper in January arguing that England would be justified in pulling out of the tour on moral grounds, given the abuses of Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe.

But just as the ECB appeared to be moving towards such a decision, the ICC raised the stakes by adopting new rules in March which mean England could face a one-year suspension from international cricket and a two-million-dollar fine if they decide not to tour.

ICC president Ehsan Mani said Wilson had made his position untenable by leaking the content of his discussion paper to the press in an attempt to bounce the ECB into a decision to pull out of the tour.

"Wilson's attempts to pressure people were naive and ill-considered. It should have come as no surprise to him that the net effect of his leaking was to damage the relations between the ECB and other Boards," Mani said.

Wilson had taken a sideswipe at the ICC in his resignation statement.

"The fact is the ECB has been placed in an intolerable position by the ICC's inflexible and, in my view, malevolent enforcement of its international tours programme with draconian and disproportionate penalties that would devastate the English game, forcing the ECB itself into insolvency and bankrupting up to a third of the first-class counties," he said.

Mani hit back by describing Wilson as "ill-informed and out of touch."

"I find it surprising that Mr Wilson is so confident in his own abilities that he believes he has the right to become the self-appointed instant expert on complex issues relating to international cricket."

The ICC supremo added: "Despite Mr Wilsons ill-informed comments, the fact remains that all countries, including England, support the position that safety and security are the factors to be taken into account when assessing whether a tour is to proceed."