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NZ positive over Zimbabwe tour.

7/6/2008 11:41:31 AM

New Zealand's cricket team will tour Zimbabwe next year unless they are specifically instructed not to do so, according to Justin Vaughan, New Zealand Cricket's (NZC) chief executive.

The New Zealand government, a vocal critic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's regime, has said they were opposed to the tour of the southern African state next year but would not intervene.

All teams are bound by the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Future Tours Programme, which has the power to fine a country's cricketing body a minimum of $2 million if they do not fulfil their touring obligations.

Only government intervention, concerns for security and safety or an ICC directive can excuse the team's obligations.

"No ICC team has unilaterally pulled out because they haven't agreed with the politics of the host nation; that's always been a decision for the government of the day," Vaughan told New Zealand's Sunday Star Times newspaper. "It's a political question and requires a political solution; it's not a decision NZC should have to make.

"We are a group of cricket administrators. We might have strong feelings about the situation in Zimbabwe but judging international politics is not what we're about.

"There are other, far more qualified people to do that job, politicians for example."

Change of situation

The British government has led calls for Zimbabwe to be suspended from international cricket following the unopposed re-election of Mugabe, with Britain accusing Mugabe of using violence and intimidation to silence his political opponents.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition, withdrew from the election following attacks on his supporters.

The England and Wales Cricket Board cancelled Zimbabwe's 2009 tour of England and severed all cricketing ties with the country in June on instruction from the British government.

Zimbabwe have since said they will skip next year's Twenty20 World Cup in England, because the players were unlikely to be granted visas.

Vaughan admitted there was still at least a year to go until the Black Caps were scheduled to tour Zimbabwe and NZC would wait and see if the situation changed.

"The tour to Zimbabwe is a year away," he said.

"There'll be another ICC conference before then; undoubtedly, a lot will change in Zimbabwe in the next year, and by that time the ICC sub-committee appointed to investigate ZC will have reported back, and we'll have a clearer idea of the situation.

"You never know, we might not have to make a decision. Time is on our side at the moment."

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Publication:Aljazeera.net
Date:Jul 8, 2008
Words:435
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