Harare: Zimbabwe cricket captain Heath Streak said on Friday his team fully supported the country's hosting of World Cup Cricket matches next month, dismissing reports his players were divided over the issue. "We're just focussing on the World Cup and making the Zimbabwean people proud," Streak said, speaking on state television late on Friday.
His comments came as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) indicated it was likely to fulfil its match obligations in Harare in February, despite the British government's push for a boycott in order to show its opposition to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. "We want to go out there and really fly the flag for Zimbabwe," Streak said, arguing that sport and politics did not mix. Streak's farming family has been affected by Zimbabwe's political turmoil - his father was arrested in 2001 when his game ranch was occupied under the government's controversial land reform programme.
News reports have suggested that several Zimbabwean cricket players do not want matches to be played in the Southern African country, but Streak dismissed these reports. "Obviously I'm not aware of who those individuals are, if there are any, I'm wary of the fact that they haven't named anyone," he told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe government has stepped up security in its top tourist resorts ahead of the World Cup cricket matches, state radio said. Six out of 54 World Cup matches are scheduled to be played in the Zimbabwe capital, Harare, and the country's second largest city of Bulawayo in February and March. Measures have been put in place to make the country "a safe tourist destination", the radio said. It reported Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi as saying those who planned to visit the country should "ignore the falsehoods being peddled by the country's detractors" on the security situation.
There have been growing concerns over security here following food riots last week in Harare and Bulawayo and the murder of an Australian tourist at Victoria Falls. Australia issued a travel warning for Zimbabwe on Friday to all its nationals saying economic hardship in the Southern African country "is leading some people to desperate and criminal activity, and has increased the risk of incidents of civil disorder".