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Last Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007, 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK
ICC pressed for Zimbabwe action
Australia last played Zimbabwe in a World Cup warm-up game in St Vincent
Australia last played Zimbabwe in a World Cup warm-up game in St Vincent
Australian prime minister John Howard has stepped up his campaign to persuade the International Cricket Council to take action against Zimbabwe.

Cricket Australia is facing a US $2m fine if it pulls out of a one-day series in Zimbabwe later this year.

But Howard said: "Our over-riding objective is the tour not take place.

"How long can the international cricket community go on doing things that give aid and comfort to someone who has been totally impervious to any entreaties?"

The prime minister described Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe as a "grubby dictator" who had sanctioned violence to try and silence his political opponents.

"I am jammed between my distaste for the government getting involved in something like this and my even greater distaste for giving a propaganda victory to Robert Mugabe," he added.

The Australian team is due to play three one-day internationals in Zimbabwe in September and the only way their governing body could escape a financial penalty for cancelling the tour would be if the decision was taken because of security concerns.

The government is, however, investigating whether there would be a legal basis for it to intervene and prohibit the tour.

Foreign minister Alexander Downer met officials from Cricket Australia and the players' union, the ACA, in Melbourne on Thursday.

Afterwards, Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said they understood "very clearly" the government's preference for the team not to undertake the tour.

But he added: "Cricket Australia is also conscious of world cricket's requirements that each country visit all other nations regularly as part of the ICC's Future Tours Program. Cricket Australia is strongly committed to the global development of cricket."

Australia last played in Zimbabwe in 2004, a tour which was boycotted by spin bowler Stuart MacGill, and he has already spoken out about this year's proposed series.

The ICC, meanwhile, issued a statement earlier this week in which it claimed it was "not a party" to the Future Tours Program Agreement between the 10 full member countries.

"A member that does not comply with its obligation to tour another member is subject to a penalty of a minimum of US $2m or such greater amount that the host member can prove to have lost as a result of the failure to tour.

"This is not an ICC fine. It is a contractual obligation between the respective members and if a member fails to fulfil that obligation, then it would have to pay the member against which it is defaulting," the statement continued.

Australia may scrap Zimbabwe tour
04 May 07 |  Australia


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