SOUTH Africa have committed themselves to a tour of Zimbabwe for three one-dayers this monthend, pouring cold water on New Zealand’s campaign to have Zimbabwe banned from internation
The Proteas have pledged to tour with a full-strength squad expected to include captain Graeme Smith, paceman Makhaya Ntini and all-rounder Jacques Kallis, according to highly placed sources.
The first two one-dayers will be played on the weekend of July 30 and 31 while the third match is pencilled in for August 3, just before New Zealand’s tour of Zimbabwe next month starts.
“At the moment all I can confirm are the dates of the series, which will be between July 30 and August 3. All the matches will be played in Harare,” Zimbabwe Cricket operations manager Qhubekani Nkala told IndependentSport yesterday.
The deal to stage the series comes in the week South Africa vowed to stand by Zimbabwe in the face of a lobby to have Zimbabwe barred from international cricket.
New Zealand Foreign minister Phil Goff launched a campaign to have the International Cricket Council (ICC) withdraw Zimbabwe from international competition ostensibly to protest against President Robert Mugabe’s human rights record.
New Zealand had hoped to enlist the support of Australia and Britain, as well as other ICC member countries, to have sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe cricket.
However, Cricket South Africa chief executive officer Gerald Majola this week said his country would continue to be consistent in their stance regarding tours to and from Zimbabwe.
“We view tours to and from Zimbabwe as cricketing matters, and we will continue to meet our obligations to the ICC and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union in this regard. We have always been consistent in this,” Majola said in a statement.
He added: “Cricket South Africa is also at the forefront of developing Africa into a major cricketing continent, and this includes assisting in the progress of Zimbabwean cricket. We will continue on this path.”
Zimbabwe are keen to use the South Africa tour, which is not on the official ICC calendar, as a warm-up for the two Tests against New Zealand in August.
Zimbabwe will thereafter host a triangular one-day international series involving New Zealand and India.