Wanderers row worries England

English cricket chiefs asked for "clarification" about their tour matches in Johannesburg which are threatened by a row between Gauteng and CSA.

updated: July 22, 2009 16:39 IST
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English cricket chiefs asked on Tuesday for "clarification" about their tour matches in Johannesburg which are threatened by a row between Wanderers-based Gauteng and Cricket South Africa.

This September and October sees South Africa hosting the ICC Champions Trophy one-day tournament.

Yet the Wanderers was shunned Tuesday for most of the event's top fixtures, even though the Johannesburg venue's 31,000 capacity makes the 'Bullring' the largest major cricket ground in South Africa.

The dispute between Gauteng, which last month accused CSA chief executive Gerald Majola of putting the national governing body at financial risk, has also spread to England's tour of South Africa starting in November.

The November 13 Twenty20 fixture against England has been moved to the Indian Ocean city of Durban while the central city of Bloemfontein takes over as hosts of the first one-day international a week later.

Meanwhile, St George's Park in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth has replaced the Wanderers as the venue for fourth and final Test against England from January 14-18.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive David Collier, has written to Majola, stressing the need to cater for the many thousands of England supporters who have already made travel arrangements for the series.

"The possible changes to the itinerary clearly present some logistical challenges for the team as well as the travelling England spectators," Collier said in an ECB statement issued on Tuesday.

"We are expecting a large number of England supporters in South Africa and it is vital that we establish the exact position as quickly as possible.

"If there are changes to the itinerary we have asked Cricket South Africa to enter into urgent discussions with SA Tourism so that any additional costs can be mitigated and covered for travelling supporters."

The Indian Premier League (IPL), switched to South Africa last April because it clashed with general elections in India, where there were insufficient security personnel to cover both events, fought with various CSA affiliates such as Gauteng over stadium hospitality boxes.

Gauteng chiefs requested details of an agreement between the CSA and the IPL.

Officials from the IPL wanted exclusive use of the suites and while an uneasy truce was declared, Gauteng relented at the last minute and later threatened a court interdict to halt the final.

Legal steps were considered after an IPL demand for 1,000 extra parking places for the climax of the 59-fixture Twenty20 tournament was rejected only when the provincial government intervened.

CSA officials are furious that Gauteng documents describe some of those involved in the dispute as "lunatics" and "dishonest", and want an apology.

Now CSA's hard-line stance in respect of the England tour is set to cost Gauteng millions of dollars unless a compromise can be reached.