Australia to wait and watch on Zimbabwe tour

Published: Monday, December 29, 2003, 20:39 [IST]
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Melbourne:Australian cricket officials have yet to decide their stance on next year's tour of Zimbabwe.

With Zimbabwe's relationship with Australia at an all-time low because of Australia's push for the African nation to remain suspended from the Commonwealth - and Zimbabwe's subsequent decision to quit the body - the tour is set to be a hot topic of debate in the New Year.

But Cricket Australia (CA) said they will wait until February before they put the Zimbabwe tour on the agenda amid a tour of Sri Lanka in February and a possible One-day series in Sharjah in April.

Australia are scheduled to play two Tests and five One-day matches in Zimbabwe in May and June and CA spokesman Peter Young on Monday confirmed the tour would not be discussed until well into 2004.

"We have Steve Waugh's farewell Test series against India, then the One-day series and the tour of Sri Lanka (in February), so it is a busy schedule right now," Young said.

"So we have our fingers on the pulse in regard to Zimbabwe, but only lightly on the pulse at this stage."

The Australian Cricketers Association will also wait until mid-January before they turn their attention to Zimbabwe.

"The Zimbabwean tour is exactly the same for us... one of the areas we look at is security, but we haven't begun the process yet," association chief executive Tim May said on Monday.

Both bodies will send representatives to Zimbabwe before Australia's tour to oversee security arrangements and will discuss the proposed tour with the Australian government.

May said he would also speak to West Indies cricket officials after their recent tour of the African nation to discuss security.

Australia called off their 2002 tour of Zimbabwe because of safety concerns sparked by the re-election of president Robert Mugabe.

Australia last visited Zimbabwe during this year's World Cup and played a match against the home side without incident, but have not visited for a Test tour since 1999.

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