This week’s move by the New Zealand government to prevent the Clear Black Caps from touring Zimbabwe on unsubstantiated safety concerns has generated widespread debate in the cricketing world.
It appears once again that the move could be political rather than a genuine worry over security.
“Currently the advise from our government is that they remain uncomfortable with the New Zealand Cricket team touring Zimbabwe, and for this reason we shall need to postpone this tour in June,” NZC chief executive Justin Vaughan wrote to ZC.
The New Zealanders want the already rearranged tour to be postponed to 2011 or played at a neutral venue.
IndependentSport sought clarification from the ICC this week on the possible course of action to be taken, but spokesman James Fitzgerald said the governing body of the game understood that the cancellation could have been a result of a mutual agreement between ZC and NZC.
“At this stage there are conflicting stories doing the rounds as to the exact situation regarding this tour,” said Fitzgerald. “The best option I think would be for you to make contact with the two boards in question to establish where they stand on the issue and that will give you a good idea of whether there is a dispute or if a mutually acceptable solution has been found. Until we have been able to ascertain the facts of this issue, I don’t think it would be appropriate for us to comment on it.”
ZC managing director Ozias Bvute however clarified the issue.
“We have found the stance taken by the New Zealand Cricket board to be factually incorrect and unfortunate,” Bvute told IndependentSport. “It was a unilateral decision that was presented to us without discussion. Subsequently, we have written back to the New Zealand board acknowledging receipt of their letter and stated position.”
Sports minister David Coltart again dismissed the New Zealanders’ fears as unfounded.
“It seems it’s a decision taken by the government rather than the team itself,” Coltart said. “I believe the use of health and safety risk reasons is wrong. I said it last year and I repeated it again this year. Zimbabwe is one of the safest places to visit and play cricket. Harare and Bulawayo have good heath facilities and to that extent there is no health risk whatsoever.”
Coltart added that the Kiwis’ decision set a bad precedence.
“We are in the process of transition as a country,” he said. “It’s a national experiment and that process should be supported by the international community. The decision taken by New Zealand sends wrong signals to potential visitors from New Zealand and other countries.” — Staff Writer.