Aussies still unsure of playing their match in Zimbabwe

Published: Thursday, February 6, 2003, 1:21 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Australia may yet pull out of its World Cup match in Zimbabwe, Australian players' union chief Tim May said on Wednesday. The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) chief executive made his comments after Australian Cricket Board (ACB) officials confirmed the game in Bulawayo on February 24 would be going ahead. May said security in Zimbabwe would continue to be reviewed after a meeting here with Australia's high commissioner to Zimbabwe, Jonathan Brown, along with ACB chief executive James Sutherland.

"One thing we have on our hands is time - the game is like 20 days away," he told reporters. "There's no use rushing any dramatic decisions. We'll take on Board all the information we can possibly get to make the most correct decision." Earlier the ACB had confirmed that Australia remained committed to the Zimbabwe fixture "at this stage" following a two-and-a-half hour meeting with Brown.

The meeting was believed to have convinced the Australian players that the political situation was not serious enough to threaten their safety. "There is no hiding from the facts the players do have some concerns about Zimbabwe and what we are trying to do is make sure that they have as much information in front of them before they go to Zimbabwe," Sutherland told reporters. "We are committed to working through a process with our players and making sure they have all the information in respect to safety and security.

At this stage, we are committed to playing in Zimbabwe." Australia's government has called on the national cricket body to pull out of the Zimbabwe match due to fears of anti-government protests and possible violence surrounding the game. The foreign ministry issued a travel advisory late Monday warning that Australians trying to attend the match in Bulawayo could be caught up in violence. England's request to have its match in Harare on Feb 13 moved to South Africa will be heard by the World Cup technical committee on Thursday.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) committee comprises six men, but they can make a decision by majority vote, which is expected to happen in one session. If its request is rejected, England would forfeit the match, a move that would leave it with only a slim chance of reaching the next round. If the request is upheld Zimbabwe can appeal. The technical committee is made up of ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, World Cup executive director Ali Bacher, ICC commercial manager Campbell Jamieson, ex-South African umpire Brian Basson, former India batsman Sunil Gavaskar and ex-West Indies bowler Michael Holding.

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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