New Zealand ask ICC for Kenya game switch

New Zealand asked the sport’s governing body on Saturday to switch their World Cup Group B match against Kenya from Nairobi to South Africa.

“The New Zealand board have reconfirmed their decision made on January 31, which is not to allow the New Zealand team to travel to Nairobi for the match on February 21,” New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive Martin Snedden told Reuters by telephone on Saturday.

“The team won’t go to Nairobi, we’ve advised the ICC (International Cricket Council) of this and we’ve confirmed that we are willing to play the game at an alternative venue in South Africa — at whatever date the ICC might determine.”

The request came on the same day that England were forced to forfeit their Group A match against Zimbabwe after tournament organisers rejected their security concerns over playing in Harare.

“From our point of view, there’s only one issue to consider in all of this and that is player safety. You can’t allow yourself to be deviated in any other direction,” Snedden added.

New Zealand have had security concerns over playing the Group B match in Kenya since a November bombing killed 16 people in Mombasa.

Snedden added that the NZC had relied on recent assessments made by an independent security expert, the South African police and a representative from Kroll, an international risk consulting company which has worked on behalf of the ICC.

“The upshot of all that is…the risk is too high (to go to Kenya) and the New Zealand board, in making their decision, have acted on that advice,” he said.

I’ve given notification of that decision to the ICC and, over the next two or three days, we will be working with the ICC to see whether or not it is possible for the match to be rescheduled.

“If the final decision is that it won’t, then the points issue will be addressed at that stage.”

New Zealand have already warned they could appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne

“It’s a possibility but, ultimately, we’re concerned with what we can achieve over the next few days,” Snedden said. “Any issue relating to arbitration won’t be addressed until after the World Cup.

He said the team was aware that a match forfeit would harm the team’s chances of progressing and well as having “severe financial consequences for us and it could be detrimental in affecting our relationship within the cricketing world.

“But, in the end, all of those factors are irrelevant when it comes to players’ safety.”

Sri Lanka, in New Zealand’s group, have said they have no problems playing in Kenya on February 24.

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