Aussies to play in Zimbabwe despite Englands fears

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2003, 20:57 [IST]
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Melbourne: Australia plans to press on and play its scheduled World Cup match in Zimbabwe, the Australian Cricket Broad (ACB) said on Tuesday. While English players have pleaded to have their World Cup match in Zimbabwe moved, the ACB said there was no security risk to prevent the Australian team from playing Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on February 24.

ACB chief executive James Sutherland said he had learned of no new security risk, which would prevent the Australian team playing its match in Bulawayo. "As far as we can gather in the reports that we've had, there's no material change in the conditions that we found when we had the security delegation there in late November," Sutherland told ABC radio on Tuesday. "I was a part of that with (Australian Cricketers' Association chief) Tim May, but at the same time we continue to monitor that."

The Australian Cricketers' Association was in talks on Tuesday and was expected to comment further on the issue on Wednesday. Two days before their departure for the World Cup, the Australian team were maintaining their position that they would play wherever the ACB directed. "It's a very volatile situation at the moment in Zimbabwe but from our perspective, we have faith in the ACB to make that decision for us," batsman Matthew Hayden said on Tuesday. England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tim Lamb said Monday, "We might be able to argue that there is a special case and request having the fixture against Zimbabwe moved to South Africa."

His comments came after a statement issued on behalf of the England team asked that the match against Zimbabwe be moved to South Africa, which is hosting the majority of the World Cup matches. England players' spokesman Richard Bevan said, "The players urge all parties to move the fixture to South Africa and pay the Zimbabwe Cricket Union appropriate compensation."

Bevan also said the England players were "greatly concerned by the moral, political and safety issues that the fixture in Zimbabwe has raised." So far the ICC has insisted that, despite political pressure, it will not move matches from Zimbabwe in protest at the regime of President Robert Mugabe. It is due to reconsider Zimbabwe's host status at an executive board meeting on Friday.

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