JOHN HOWARD: Well the Government, through the Foreign Minister, has written to the organisation, Cricket Australia, instructing that the tour not go ahead. [..]
BARRIE CASSIDY: What is the legal basis for this? How can you put out that instruction?
There seems to be almost universal support in this country for the abandonment of Australia's ODI cricket tour of Zimbabwe pencilled in for September. The pollies all agree, the commentariat seem to all agree, the Roman Catholic Church agrees, the only dissenting voices I have seen are from the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Australia (well he would, wouldn't he?) and former Test batsman Vusi Sibanda, who now lives in Sydney.
Australia is scheduled to play three one-day internationals in Zimbabwe in September. They should not go. Furthermore, they should not pay the $US 2 million break fee for not going.
It doesn't take rocket science to understand why. Playing international cricket in a country which has been governed into an absolutely ruinous state would be a sign of ceremonial largesse of the most unspeakable obscenity. Inflation is running at more than 2000 per cent per annum, 38 per cent of the population are malnourished (source: World Food Programme), 85 per cent are unemployed, about a quarter have HIV/AIDS, and President Robert Mugabe rules dictatorially, violently suppressing opposition and silencing contrary opinion in the media.
I should have mentioned this one sooner, but the October 7 edition of ABC Radio National's The Sports Factor included an excellent 15-minute feature on the black-arm protest by Andy Flower and Henry Olonga before the start of Zimbabwe's first game in the 2003 World Cup.
The program, by former Zimbabwean journalist Robert Scott who now works for the ABC in Western Australia, includes interviews with the pair and is an excellent account of the episode from their point of view.
Board's itinerary goof up leaves team stranded in Bulawayo
Ashish Shukla/Press Trust of India, 27.8.05
Sadly, I think it's time for the ICC to suspend Zimbabwe from all international cricket competition. Mugabe's conduct in running the country has finally, in my opinion, made it untenable for any side to play cricket there. The ICC, of course, is going to do no such thing.
In the past I've supported Zimbabwean cricket's right to remain on the world stage, acknowledging the complexity of political and commercial interests that have bound the ICC and its members. But how, really, can we continue to justify sending teams to play in a country whose fabric is being torn to shreds by a reckless and deluded president, who just happens to also be Patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union? The "Drive Out Rubbish" program is, for me, the last straw.
Zimbabwe departs from the VB Series with their worst record in three outings in the Australian triangular. At least they managed one win in both 1994-95 and 2000-01. This time, a washout at the MCG was the best they could muster.
The sad thing is that Zimbabwe's cricket team is not improving. The upper order batting collapsed on a regular basis and the bowlers suffered some extraordinary punishment at times, most notably at the hands of Adam Gilchrist in Hobart. Only Heath Streak, Stuart Carlisle, Grant Fowler and Sean Ervine can really hold their heads up as players of genuine international calibre.
It's not exactly in the same league as selling mail order Via*gra, X[a]nax or p3nis enlargements, but the Zimbabwe Cricket Union's unsolicited email to the eighteen first-class English counties on Monday will go down as one of the daftest acts by a cricket administration in recent times.
The Zimbabwe Cricket Union, stretched for funds in a deteriorating economy and suffering on the field from a drain of most of its best players, is desperate for every scheduled international tour to its country to proceed. And with October's tour by England in serious danger of cancellation, ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka and chief executive Vince Hogg were desperate enough to decide to bypass the ECB and appeal directly to the county administrations.
Bangladesh has just announced its touring team to play two Tests and five one-day internationals in Zimbabwe next month. Namibia has just completed a series of five matches in Zimbabwe against the national under-19 and A teams. Meanwhile, England is fretting over the prospects of touring Zimbabwe in October.
The Zimbabwean cricket team is currently in Australia for the VB Series, making its second trip to that country in three months. The Zimbabwean soccer team is currently in Tunisia for the African Cup of Nations, and lost their opening game to Egypt on Sunday. They had to change their travel plans from Harare to Tunis when the British Government refused to give them transit visas to make a stopover at Heathrow en route.