By the time this column is printed, the 8th Cricket World Cup will be just a day away. As an aside, this columnist would like to point out that it will be the first World Cup he has not been able to watch on television for 20 years. He is justifiably not pleased about such a situation.
But back to the subject at hand, i.e., the tournament itself. The Australians are the clear favorites to defend their title, with South Africa touted as second favorite.
An interesting statistic that works against the South Africans is that no country has ever won the World Cup on home soil.
Whether the South Africans succumb to the jinx remains to be seen, of course, but even they have acknowledged that Australia is the team to beat.
Of more pressing note, however — and this is an issue I commented on a couple of weeks ago — the English team has officially submitted a request to ICC World Cup Technical Committee requesting that their match in Harare on Feb. 13 be moved to South Africa for safety and security reasons.
This comes on the heels of New Zealand asking that their match in Kenya be moved to a safer location. New Zealand is also looking at possible legal options if the ICC turns down their request.
Once again I assert that the venues should be changed, and not just because of security and safety reasons.
Naturally, the safety of the players is the primary concern in such a situation, but there is also the question of recognizing the realities on the ground.
If the ICC chooses not to move the matches, it will send the wrong signal to the cricketing world, that the governing body of the sport does not care about its players and their concerns.
The ICC must therefore be most judicious in the handling of this issue, and put the interests of the game and the players before its own interests.