Canberra: Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Friday called on the Australian cricketers to play their Zimbabwe tour games in South Africa.
The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) earlier this week confirmed it would go ahead with next month's tour, which involves three One-dayers and two Tests in Harare and Bulawayo, in spite of the African country being suspended from the Commonwealth. The South African cricket board has already ruled out hosting the matches. But Downer said the ACB had the option of playing the matches in a third country such as South Africa. "It would be a good deal less controversial if they were to do that," he said. Downer said the ACB was taking advice from his department and from the High Commission in Harare. "I am not bullying the Australian Cricket Board. I am not trying to force any decision on them," he said. "They must make their own decision themselves and they will do." Downer said the government had no power to compel the ACB to call off the tour. "I have said to the ACB that it is my view that whilst this cricket tour was planned quite some time ago, I think years ago actually, as it turns out the timing of the tour is unfortunate," he told reporters. "If the tour does go ahead in Zimbabwe then it does run the risk of being interpreted by people in Zimbabwe of some form of approval of the Zimbabwe regime."
Australia to go ahead with Zimbabwe tour