ZB tour: Australia to wait till new year

Published: Thursday, December 11, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne:Cricket Australia (CA) said it would wait until at least the new year before deciding whether to cancel its second cricket tour of Zimbabwe in two years.

Zimbabwe's relationship with Australia has plunged to an all-time low after the African nation quit the Commonwealth earlier this week.

But despite growing anti-Australian sentiment in Zimbabwe, CA said on Thursday no decision would be made on the tour planned for May before an inspection early next year.

Australia called off its 2002 tour of Zimbabwe due to growing safety concerns sparked by the re-election of president Robert Mugabe.

"At the moment we don't have the issue on our radar screen," CA public affairs general manager Peter Young said Thursday.

"What we do have is the Tests against India and the tour of Sri Lanka in February and March - those are the immediate issues. I would expect by February we'd start to take a look at it."

Australia is scheduled to play two Tests and three One-day Internationals on the tour.

Young said the Zimbabwe assessment would be no different to that done before Australia's cricket team undertook any tour.

"We'll organise a visit there with the Australian Cricketers' Association as the players' representative, and start to make an assessment of all the issues as we do before any tour we do," Young said.

"One of the immutable criteria is safety and security. Unless our safety and security can be guaranteed, we won't be going."

After the Sri Lanka tour in March, Australia are scheduled to take part in a One-day tournament in Sharjah before heading to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe played two Tests in Australia in October and are scheduled to return in January as part of the triangular One-day series along with India.

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