Safety cannot be guaranteed at Zimbabwe ties: Goodwin

Published: Friday, January 31, 2003, 21:32 [IST]
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Perth: A former Zimbabwe cricketer warned on Friday that safety at World Cup games in his country cannot be guaranteed.

Darrell Goodwin, 37, warned from his home in Harare of potential threats to Cup matches by political splinter groups in the strife-torn country, the 'West Australian' newspaper reported. Goodwin, elder brother of Perth-based former Zimbabwe Test cricketer Murray Goodwin, issued his warning the day after the sport's governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC) ruled in London that matches in Zimbabwe and Kenya would go ahead as planned. England players had called on the ICC to switch their match scheduled for Harare to South Africa, where the bulk of games in the February 8-March 23 tournament are scheduled to be played.

Darrell Goodwin spoke out about potential threats in Zimbabwe after Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden said he would not shake hands with Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe, also the patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU). Darrell Goodwin told the paper he had watched as close friends were forced off their farms and out of the country recently, and said the mood was tense in the Cup lead- up. He believed there were political splinter groups which posed serious threats to the security of fixtures, including Australia's match against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo February 24.

"I don't have a crystal ball, but I am worried these groups will make some form of protest, so you can't guarantee the total safety of the games," he said. "The political situation is very tense and it hasn't been a nice couple of years. I can't colour the place up as a paradise because there are hungry people here. "At this point, in this country as a civilian I don't feel threatened, but the Australians are taking a risk by coming." Murray Goodwin, 30, was a prominent Zimbabwe batsman from 1998 to 2000 who also played for his native country in the 1999 World Cup in England. He returned to Western Australia, where he lived from the age of 13, because of Zimbabwe's economic problems.

He is a current member of the Western Australian Sheffield Shield team. He said he had mixed emotions in relation to the World Cup controversy because he had close friends in the Zimbabwe and Australia sides. "It's a great country, but it is sad to see what is happening there," he said. "As a cricketer, I want the Australian team to go. I just hope for their sake nothing erupts."

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