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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 May 2007, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
ICC accepts Aussie tour boycott
Malcolm Speed
Speed says Australia will not be fined for their decision
The International Cricket Council has welcomed the "clarity" given by Prime Minister John Howard in stopping Australia's tour of Zimbabwe.

Howard ordered the country's cricketers to pull out of the trip in protest at the regime of President Robert Mugabe.

"A government has prohibited their team from going. That's the clarity we've been seeking," said Speed.

"We don't like governments expressing opinions but then leaving the political decisions to cricket administrators."

Speed added that as Mr Howard had taken the decision not to tour out of Cricket Australia's hands, they would not be fined.

And Speed contrasted Mr Howard's decision to that of the British Government, who in 2004 voiced opposition to England's tour of the country but said they could not order the team to cancel the trip.

It is unfortunate for Zimbabwe's cricketers and supporters

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed

"For the last three years, and you have seen it pretty clearly in England, politicians have been making lots of statements about cricket in Zimbabwe and expressing very strong opinions that England should not tour," he told BBC Five Live's Sportsweek programme.

"But they have fallen well short of giving a restriction or prohibition which is what we have been saying is required.

"We have said many times that it is not up to the cricket administrators to make political decisions.

606: DEBATE

"What the UK government have said in the past is that believe they do not have the power to tell the cricket team not to tour.

"Maybe that is the case under British law but it does seem curious."

Australia were due to play three one-day internationals in Zimbabwe later this year but the games could now be played at a neutral venue.

And Speed added that he was not surprised by Mr Howard's decision.

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting
The Australian squad understands its responsibility to spread the word of cricket

Australia captain Ricky Ponting

"Talking to people in Australia over the last two weeks or so it became clear the Australian government has been heading for this decision," he added.

"From an ICC perspective we have an agreement between our member countries where they will tour unless there is acceptable non-compliance.

"One part of that is if a government or public authority imposes a restrictional prohibition and that's what's happened here.

"It seems, on the face of it, to fit within ICC policy. I'm neither pleased or displeased with the decision.

"It is unfortunate for Zimbabwe's cricketers and supporters, all of whom need exposure to top-quality cricket in order to develop as players and to encourage future generations to take up the sport."

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting said he respected the decision.

"As far as this situation is concerned, I'm comfortable that the Australian Government has taken the responsibility for making international affairs decisions on behalf of the country," he said.

"As captain of Australia I've never had a problem playing against international cricketers from Zimbabwe.

"As a playing group, the Australian squad understands its responsibility to spread the word of cricket throughout the world by playing against all member countries and, from time to time, in non-member countries as well."



SEE ALSO
Aussies pull out of Zimbabwe tour
13 May 07 |  Australia


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