Sunday 29 December 2002

A captain speaks

Growing up in Scotland rarely leads to an interest in cricket but the headline in the Sunday Telegraph demanded my attention. The captain of the England team has pronounced:
Going to Zimbabwe is a moral issue, and a very important one, and it is not up to cricketers but to government politicians to make the decision.
In these circumstances it is, yes, faintly ridiculous to suppose that the England captain and management have the time to sit down, watch CNN and BBC World, and come to the informed moral judgement which it is necessary to make about going to Zimbabwe.

In my opinion, therefore, the Government should set up a sporting body of some sort - above the ECB and the ICC - to make this moral decision about Zimbabwe on our behalf, and we will then happily abide by it.

Now I recognise that there are arguments in favour of trading with and visiting nasty regimes on the grounds that such contact may bring about liberalisation. It is also arguable that contacts may reinforce criminal governments. What is not legitimate is to say that such decisions, which are indeed important ones, should be left to politicians because sportsmen "haven't got the time" to think for themselves. Hopefully they never have the time to vote.