Lahore (Pakistan): World Cup matches will go ahead next year in Zimbabwe without any problems, a Zimbabwean official of the International Cricket Council said on Monday. "I don't think there are any hitches in holding World Cup matches and Pakistan team's safe tour last month has cleared any doubts," said Micky Dudhia, the ICC's development officer for Africa.
"It would be a huge disappointment if any team refuses to play in Zimbabwe because there are no problems for cricket," Dudhia said. Dudhia, who is the ICC-host liaison for the World Cup, was in Lahore to attend a cricket council development committee meeting that ended on Sunday. Zimbabwe has come under international scrutiny over the forcible resettlement of white farmers, who owned more than 30 per cent of the country's most fertile land before the campaign was launched in 2000 with President Robert Mugabe's blessing.
Pakistan played two Tests and five One-day games in Zimbawbe last month. Last month ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed and officials from the six countries due to play in Zimbabwe visited last month. India, Kenya, Namibia and Pakistan have shown no hesitation at playing in Zimbabwe, but Australia and England have voiced concern. Speed made clear that member countries would have to abide by any ICC decision on whether to play in Zimbabwe. Australia cancelled an April tour of Zimbabwe citing security fears.
"What we understand is that Australian players were willing to play in Zimbabwe but were not cleared by insurance people," Dhudia said. He also said the potential problem of issuing Zimbabwean visas to journalists covering the Cup would be "solved soon". Two British journalists were denied visas to cover the ICC tour led by Speed after they refused a clause barring them from reporting on anything but cricket.