Former captain also hits out at match-fixing April 3, 2007

Waugh thinks players want Zimbabwe tour scrapped

Cricinfo staff

Steve Waugh believes Australia's cricketers think playing in Zimbabwe is "not the right thing to do" © Getty Images

Steve Waugh believes the Australia players do not want to go ahead with their scheduled tour of Zimbabwe in September. Australia are supposed to play a three-match ODI series there to fulfil their agreement that every ICC member nation must tour each other country at least once every five years.

However, the Australian government has called for the visit to be axed due to continued violence in Zimbabwe and the increased crushing of dissent by Robert Mugabe's regime. Waugh said he thought the players would probably agree.

"It's a difficult question for Ricky [Ponting] but I feel the Australian players probably generally feel they don't want to go," Waugh told Reuters. "I might be speaking out of school, but I've got the feeling they think it is not the right thing to do."

Australia last toured Zimbabwe in May 2004, when Stuart MacGill famously made himself unavailable in a self-imposed boycott. With security concerns growing, Waugh said he would not advise Australia to go ahead with the trip.

"It's easy for me to say that because when you're a player it's your career and you don't want to get too involved in things like that," Waugh said. "But I think it will be tough for them to go in that environment with what's happening in Zimbabwe. I've got the feeling they probably won't go."

The Australian government indicated it would discuss the matter with Cricket Australia (CA) after the World Cup. It said there might be ways for CA to avoid the fines of up to US$1.6 million from the ICC if Australia cancelled the tour.

Waugh, who was speaking at the Laureus world sports awards in Barcelona, also said match-fixing was damaging cricket and it was up to the players to help stamp it out. "I don't want it in cricket - I think it is terrible, disgusting," Waugh said on AAP.

"I'm getting asked at these awards by other sporting legends about what's going on in cricket and it's bad for the sport's image. Really it's about the players, they have to put their hands up and say I'm 100% or sign declarations but something has to be done because it is damaging the sport.

Waugh said match-fixing might be more widespread than many people thought. "It would be pretty naive to say it was just one or two countries," he said. "I don't know who is involved but the odds are it is more than one or two countries. But what do you do to stop it?

"I don't think the ICC or anyone knows how to stop it or it would have been stopped before. They formed a committee years ago and nothing too much seems to have changed. Something serious has to happen now or the game will be damaged for ever."