No compromises, no handshake with Mugabe, says Hayden

Published: Thursday, January 30, 2003, 21:38 [IST]
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Melbourne: Australian batsman Matthew Hayden said on Thursday he would refuse to shake the hand of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe at World Cup. The Australian team departed for South Africa on Thursday, saying it would leave a decision on whether to play in strife-torn Zimbabwe to cricket authorities. But Hayden, the world's number one ranked batsman, said he had moral issues with shaking the hand of Mugabe, who is also the Zimbabwe Cricket Union's (ZCU) patron. "In my opinion that a handshake seriously compromises the values and traditions of what I'm about and I wouldn't like to do that - no," Hayden said when asked would he shake Mugabe's hand at the cricket showpiece tournament. "What I'm going to do is rely on the fact that we have a terrific ground staff and support staff behind us to hopefully not put us in any position when that can happen." The executive board of the International Cricket Council (ICC) were to meet via teleconference on Thursday to discuss the crisis over Zimbabwe and Kenya's status as World Cup hosts. Australia plays Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on February 24, with its other five pool matches scheduled for South Africa. One-day specialist batsman Michael Bevan said the Australian players had faith in the Australian Cricket Board (ACB), ICC and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs to decide whether it was safe to play in Zimbabwe. The Australian government has said it would not prevent players from going to Zimbabwe, but said it would be better for the ICC to move the matches away from Zimbabwe. "The situation's being monitored and the players make their decisions based on the ACB's findings and the government's findings," Bevan said before the team's departure. "You have to be sure within yourself and happy, comfortable and content. "When we're given advice, we've got to treat that at face value. Once that's happened, then we're on with the job. "We place our trust in the ACB and the government and... the ICC as well. "We just trust they've done the background on it which from all reports they have." Australia pulled out of last year's scheduled tour of Zimbabwe after receiving advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs, and also forfeited a 1996 World Cup match in Sri Lanka because of safety concerns. England's players have asked the ICC to conduct an urgent review into their match in Zimbabwe because of the political climate in the country. New Zealand is unwilling to play its match in Kenya after receiving a security report of an active terrorist cell which allegedly had the means to attack targets in Nairobi. But the ICC warned on Thursday those countries opposed to matches being staged in Zimbabwe and Kenya needed strong new evidence to convince the board to move the matches. "The ICC executive board has previously seen no reason to move the matches and any country seeking to have any of its games moved will be asked to provide additional information that clearly demonstrates that it is unsafe for its team to fulfil its obligations," an ICC statement said. The ICC wants to protect a seven-year, $ 550 million commercial rights agreement signed with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Global Cricket Corporation (GCC). Teams that boycott World Cup games will forfeit two competition points as well as face the likelihood of paying fines of up to $ 1.6 million.

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