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May 14, 2007
Several senior Australia players have expressed their relief that the decision on whether to tour Zimbabwe was taken out of their hands. The Australian government stepped in to cancel the September series but it is likely some players would have pulled out had the trip gone ahead.
Matthew Hayden said when Australia last visited Zimbabwe in 2004 he thought about boycotting, like Stuart MacGill. "I was seriously considering my position this time, as to whether I would go if the tour went ahead," Hayden told The Australian.
"I considered not going last time but went in the end. This time I was considering it a lot more heavily. I think this time it could have been a case of once bitten, twice shy. While I felt our safety was compromised a bit [in 2004], I just felt compromised in general. The whole tour became a farce."
Adam Gilchrist said it was appropriate for the government to make such important decisions but he would not object to playing Zimbabwe at a neutral venue. "I'm glad it's not a decision we have to finally make," Gilchrist said.
"If we can play them elsewhere - if our government and administrators allow us to do that - then I'm very supportive of the idea. Their cricketers should not be affected by their regime. If we can accommodate them in any other way, I think that makes a great deal of sense." Ricky Ponting also said he was "comfortable" with the government's decision.
Darren Lehmann, the president of the Australian Cricketers' Association, was pleased the players did not have to decide whether to tour. "It has been a long process and I am just glad it has come to this and we have worked through all the issues together," Lehmann said in The Advertiser.
A rare voice opposing the cancellation of the tour came from Dean Jones, who wrote in the Herald Sun that Australia had a "moral responsibility" to help develop cricket in Zimbabwe. "Having been there a few times in recent years, I can tell you that the opportunity to see this great Australian team would be a major boost to cricket in Zimbabwe," Jones said. "If we don't go, so many children will miss a lifetime chance to be influenced by the elite of the game."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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