Australia in Zimbabwe / News

Zimbabwe Cricket rules out neutral venue

Zimbabwe-Australia series cancelled

Cricinfo staff

May 15, 2007

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James Sutherland has learned from his Zimbabwean counterpart Ozias Bvute that the planned series will not be played outside Zimbabwe © Getty Images
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The Zimbabwe-Australia series was officially cancelled today after Zimbabwe Cricket informed the Australian board that it would not agree to play the series at a neutral venue.

A Cricket Australia spokesman said James Sutherland, the board's chief executive, had spoken to his Zimbabwean counterpart Ozias Bvute who had "made it very clear that playing the series at a neutral venue was not a possibility.

"We can now say definitely that the series will not be happening inside or outside Zimbabwe. The next international engagement for Australia will be the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in September."

In a terse statement, Lovemore Banda, ZC's media manager, said the cancellation by Australia was "unacceptable and unfortunate".

There had been speculation that the three ODIs might be rescheduled to a neutral venue, but last night that plan was scotched by the Mugabe regime amid another broadside aimed at Australia's government.

"That is wishful thinking ... the ICC says Zimbabwe can host the Australians and any other cricket country here," said Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe's information minister. He also accused the Australian government of trying to oust Mugabe.

"The Australian foreign minister has announced A$18 million for regime change," he said. "We have a process here for the change of government through democratic elections and not any other way. For them to put up that money when we are heading for an election reveals their agenda, but we have a law here against foreign funding for political parties, directly or through NGOs or their embassy."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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