Australian administrator denies newpapers reports

By Tony Cozier
Stabroek News
October 29, 2003

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AUSTRALIA’S top cricket administrator yesterday vehemently denied a report in two major Australian newspapers that Australia “is looming as a chance of hosting the 2007 cricket World Cup as concerns mount about the ability of the West Indies to stage the event”.

“I’m just blown out of the water by that (report) and I deny all of that,” Bob Merriman, chairman of Cricket Association, said from his hotel in Barbados where he attends the International Cricket Council (ICC) meetings today and tomorrow at which the World Cup is one of the items on the agenda.

The simultaneous report in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age, by writer Trevor Marshallsea, claimed that “fears that the cricketing infrastructure of the Caribbean might not measure up are growing” and that Australia has been informally discussed as the fall-back option to host the event.

“Cricket Australia have contractural arrangements in place that would preclude it having the 2007 World Cup in any case” he said. “We certainly have no qualms about the relationship we have with the West Indies. In fact, it’s completely the opposite to what that report says.”

Merriman also denied Marshallsea’s claim that he had told state administrators that “fears about the West Indies’ ability (to manage the Cup) have reached significant levels within the ICC”.

He said that he had talked on the international scene “in a broad sense” at a recent meeting he and chief executive James Sutherland had with the New South Wales board but that “it had nothing to do with the World Cup here.”

“Trevor’s a good journalist but I don’t know who he’s been speaking to,” Merriman added. “It seems as if somebody’s setting something up somewhere.”

West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) chief executive Roger Brathwaite acknowledged in the board’s weekly newspaper column last Sunday that “many of our international associates...question the ability of the West Indies to successfully manage an event of such magnitude”.

He said the current ICC meetings, attended by president Ehsan Mani of Pakistan and heads of all 10 full members and three associates and the first of their kind to be held in the Caribbean, would be a chance “let them see first hand that we can”.

The 2007 World Cup will be the ninth and the first awarded to the West Indies, the last of the ICC’s full members to stage it.

Marshallsea’s report quoted two New South Wales board members, “who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue in world cricket politics”, as referring to Merriman’s alleged apprehension.

“Bob said that there were growing concerns at ICC level about the West Indies holding the event,” one unnamed member allegedly told the reporter. “It’s no surprise that people are worried about the West Indies holding the tournament, because of their financial worries and the general instability in the area.”

Marshallsea quoted his other phantom source as stating that the impression was given that Australia would be well- placed to pick up the event, should the West Indies not be able to.

When Australia staged the 1992 tournament, in partnership with New Zealand, Imran Khan, captain of champions Pakistan, said: “I played in the other four World Cups and I can tell you this is the worst-organised.”