Government calls for ban on Zimbabwe June 28, 2005

NZ increase pressure on ICC to act

Cricinfo staff

The New Zealand government is increasing the pressure to have Zimbabwe banned from international cricket, and while some national governments have given varying degrees of support, the response from the national cricket boards is likely to be less enthusiastic.

On Monday, Phil Goff, New Zealand's foreign minister, repeated his call for action to be taken against Zimbabwe in view of the escalating human rights abuses being perpetrated by Robert Mugabe's regime. That coincided with condemnation of events in Zimbabwe from a number of bodies, including Britain, the USA, the Commonwealth and the European Union. Goff said that he was hoping to enlist the support of national cricket boards, but added; "If we have to go to the ICC alone, we will."

The first to react was the Australian government whose foreign minister, Alexander Downer, who said that he would be speaking to Cricket Australia. "Given the level of human rights abuses that are now taking place in Zimbabwe it's not appropriate for cricket matches to be played against Zimbabwe," Downer told ABC. "But before we make any approach to the ICC as a government, we'll be consulting with the board. After [that] consultation, we will make a decision about whether we will join with the British and the New Zealanders to lobby the ICC to stop cricket matches against Zimbabwe for the time being."

Goff is also understood to have held fruitful talks with Jack Straw, his UK counterpart. But last year Straw was unnsuccessful in his attempts to persuade the England & Wales Cricket Board to scrap its tour of Zimbabwe.