Sydney: Australian cricket authorities have decided not to follow their English counterparts in demanding that World Cup matches planned in strife-torn Zimbabwe this month be moved to South Africa, a spokesman said on Wednesday. Australian players met late on Tuesday in South Africa after England formally submitted its request for a venue change and took no step to challenge the holding of their match scheduled in the Zimbabwe city of Bulawayo, the spokesman for the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) said.
"We've got a game scheduled for February 24 which we're planning to play in Bulawayo and we're planning to play that game subject only to continuing advice that the safety and security is as it should be," he said. 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 on Monday warning that Australians trying to attend the match in Bulawayo could be caught up in violence. Some Australian players had expressed concerns about the game in Bulawayo, a bastion of opposition to the regime of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, but team leaders have said they will follow ACB advice on the matter. The players held a series of meetings with Australian cricket officials and the country's chief diplomat in Zimbabwe on the security situation there, and then met on their own late on Tuesday to discuss the matter, the spokesman said.
"My understanding from our management in the field is that the team came back and said that they had resolved to not make any further public comment on Zimbabwe unless there is some change in the situation," he said. "They're getting sick of being badgered about it," he said. He did not rule out that the ACB could change its mind about the Bulawayo match if threats to player security emerged.
Earlier on Monday English cricket chiefs submitted a formal request for their February 13 World Cup match in the Zimbabwe capital Harare to be switched to South Africa. The sport's governing body, the International Cricket Council, said the request would be discussed by the World Cup technical committee on Thursday. The English request was lodged with the backing of England captain Nasser Hussain and the players.