Mugabe vitriol could scupper tours

Staff Writer

AS President Robert Mugabe continues on the warpath that has isolated Zimbabwe, pressure is mounting for the boycott of tours to the southern African country by England and Australia scheduled f

or this year.


Australia is scheduled to play two Tests and five one-day matches in Zimbabwe in May and June. The Australian Cricketers Association has said it will wait until mid-January before it turns its attention to Zimbabwe.


“The Zimbabwean tour is exactly the same for us…one of the areas we look at is security, but we haven’t begun the process yet,” association chief executive Tim May said.


The cricketers association and Cricket Australia will send representatives to Zimbabwe before Australia’s tour to oversee security arrangements and will discuss the proposed tour with the Australian government.


Meanwhile in Britain, Foreign secretary Jack Straw was under pressure this week to veto England’s planned cricket tour of Zimbabwe amid concern that the trip would endorse the regime of President Mugabe.


The London Independent reported that Michael Ancram, the Shadow Foreign secretary, urged Straw to intervene to prevent a repeat of the “shambles” before England pulled out of a match scheduled for Harare during the Cricket World Cup at the beginning of last year.


The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has pledged to take a final decision the planned tour at the end of February.


Tim Lamb, the ECB chairman, has already conceded the board will have to balance political and moral as well as sporting considerations when deciding on the tour.


But any decision to go ahead would meet with fierce opposition after Zimbabwe’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth.


Derek Wyatt, the Labour chairman of the Commons all-party Zimbabwe group said: “We are seeing the Commonwealth Secretary General on January 6 and then we will have an idea of how the land lies. After that we plan to see Tim Lamb in the New Year (this year). We will tell him not to go.

“It would be mad for them to go. They would be crazy to go. As (former South African president Nelson) Mandela said, no sport in an abnormal society. Eight million people are dying. We should not prop up this regime.”

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