New Zealand PM questions safety of players in Zimbabwe

February 17th, 2009 - 10:17 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 17 (IANS) New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has questioned whether it was safe for its cricketers to tour Zimbabwe, a country undergoing political and social breakdown.
New Zealand are scheduled to play a one-day series in Zimbabwe in July, but Key made his scepticism clear.

He questioned why the International Cricket Council (ICC) continues to support the country.

“There are security risks for our players, there is the risk of cholera, and quite frankly we don’t support that regime and we have made that quite clear,” Key said.

“You have to ask the question ‘Why would the International Cricket Council be fining New Zealand for not sending their cricket team to a country which is so dysfunctional that it is a high risk if our players go there?’,” Key said.

The question of the fine is a serious one, as New Zealand Cricket (NZC) would have to pay Zimbabwe heavy compensation for defaulting on a Future Tours Programme commitment.

According to Justin Vaughan, the NZC chief executive, “We would stand to be in the gun for a US$2 million penalty”.

Such fines can be waived when national boards are operating under direct instructions from their governments.

Last summer, England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke was able to point to a letter from Andy Burnham, the minister for culture, media and sport, when cancelling Zimbabwe’s scheduled tour of England in May this year.

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