Black Caps tour goes ahead

THE New Zealand cricket team will continue with their scheduled tour of Zimbabwe despite a petition by a group of Kiwis to block their visit here.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said they will not bow down to an online petition demanding a boycott of the tour, unless it believes there is a direct threat of violence towards its players.

A petition on Change.org is calling for NZC to pull out of their two-Test tour, in a stand against President Robert Mugabe’s regime as protests and strikes over unpaid wages and the country’s woeful economy cause unrest. Under the ICC’s Future Tours Programme agreement, teams that pull out of scheduled tours are ruled to be in breach of contract, and liable to pay hefty compensation to the host nation including loss of broadcasting rights money.

An NZC spokesperson said the financial implications meant it would not boycott a scheduled tour solely on political grounds. NZC would either need to prove Zimbabwe is an unsafe destination and there was a direct threat of violence to their players, or cast significant doubt on the host nation delivering the team’s security and safety plan.

NZC twice postponed scheduled visits to Zimbabwe, in 2009 and 2010, due to security concerns before finally deeming it safe to tour in 2011. The Black Caps toured here without incident a year ago, playing three ODIs and a Twenty20 match, and India safely completed their series in Harare last month.

South Africa A are currently here in Zimbabwe to play two four-day matches against Zimbabwe A and there hasn’t been any threat to their security. The Black Caps touched down in South Africa on Monday for a week-long camp in Pretoria, before they transfer to Harare for their warm-up match starting on July 22.

NZC says it is monitoring the tense situation in Harare but a boycott would not occur unless it deteriorated rapidly. Shortly before their departure for South Africa, Black Caps coach Mike Hesson said NZC and the Players’ Association were providing regular advice, and added he was confident the tour would proceed.

“Yes I am, absolutely, and there’s nothing to suggest it won’t at this stage,” Hesson told stuff.co.nz.

“We’ve been pretty well briefed in terms of what’s happening. “Heading to South Africa for seven or eight days, if anything changes I’m sure we’ll be given plenty of instruction. We’re confident we’re getting up to date information.”

Post a comment