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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Zim Test series called off
Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne
We should not be playing the matches in the interests of Test standards throughout the world
CA chairman Bob Merriman

Zimbabwe's two-Test series against Australia has been postponed, but the planned one-day matches will go ahead.

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union decided to call the Tests off ahead of a teleconference hastily arranged by the ICC to address the issue.

The one-day series will now be brought forward, with the matches to be played in Harare on 25, 27 and 29 May.

Although the Test series has not been cancelled, Australian officials said it was unlikely it would be played soon.

"Cricket Australia has informed the ZCU that the Australian team is heavily committed over the next four years, and it is extremely unlikely that we will be able to play the two Test matches within this timeframe," chief executive James Sutherland said.

None of the white players involved in the dispute will play in the one-day games after they were sacked for a second time.

Their lawyer Chris Venturas said: "They have been told they have been sacked and were instructed to return their cars, their phones and all their other perks."

CA chairman Bob Merriman said Australia did not want to play a depleted Zimbabwe.

He said: "We should not be playing the Test matches in the interests of Test match standards throughout the world."

Test players Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Justin Langer and Simon Katich will leave Zimbabwe as soon as possible.

The cancellation of the Test series pleased the ICC, which was concerned the integrity of cricket was being damaged by the player strike.

"I am pleased the ZCU and Cricket Australia have agreed to postpone these two matches," president Ehsan Mani said.

"This course of action was first suggested by the ICC two weeks ago and protects the integrity of Test cricket."

Mani said Zimbabwe's status as Test-playing nation was not under threat, though all issues relating to the situation will be discussed at an ICC meeting at the end of June in London.

Zimbabwe have been forced to play a second-string side after 15 players, including former captain Heath Streak, refused to play for the team because of the dispute concerning selection policy.

The ZCU had stripped Streak of the national team captaincy and replaced him with Tatenda Taibu.

A vastly depleted Zimbabwe were hammered recently at home by Sri Lanka, prompting the ICC to consider the value of Australia's visit.

Mani hoped the player dispute would be resolved before England's planned tour there in October.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Sport's James Munro
"Zimbabwe are in real danger of losing Test status for good"


Cricket Australia's Bob Merriman
"There is significant disappointment within the Australia camp"



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