Sydney: Prime Minister John Howard made a last minute appeal to the International Cricket Council (ICC) to shift Australia's World Cup match with Zimbabwe due to be played in Bulawayo on Monday.
Howard, who has pressed for Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth to be extended until the end of the year, on Friday urged the ICC to shift the game to Kenya or South Africa. "I've never argued that the Australian team should unilaterally pull out if it didn't want to," Howard told a Melbourne radio station. "I haven't put that kind of moral pressure on the Australian team. "My argument has been that the International Cricket Council should have listened to the views of the British and New Zealand governments and shifted all of the games from Zimbabwe to either Kenya or South Africa."
But Howard said the Australian team was stuck in a situation where it felt compelled to fulfil its contract with the Australian Cricket Board. "I think they're really stuck with a situation that could have been avoided if the International Cricket Council had taken another view." Howard denied it was embarrassing for Australia, having taken such a hard line against Zimbabwe's regime, to have its cricketers play there.
"I never think the Australian cricket team embarrasses this country," he said. "I think many of them have misgivings about the situation but they also have a contract with the Australian Cricket Board." Copyright AFP 2001