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News

South Africa offer to be neutral venue

South Africa have offered to step in and host a one-day series between Australia and Zimbabwe but the Australian government believes it is "highly unlikely" the games will eventuate

Cricinfo staff
14-May-2007


The potential for Australia and Zimbabwe to play at a neutral venue is being explored © Getty Images
South Africa are willing to step in and host a one-day series between Australia and Zimbabwe but the Australian government believes it is "highly unlikely" the games will eventuate. The government wrote to Cricket Australia ordering it not to tour Zimbabwe but CA said it was considering whether the matches could be played at a neutral venue.
Gerald Majola, Cricket South Africa's chief executive, said there would be no problem if both countries wanted to play in South Africa. "I haven't heard anything from anyone," Majola said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "Obviously Australia and Zimbabwe would have to agree to move the tour first. If the two parties agreed to play there, then we would be fine with that."
The Australian government would prefer that the series was cancelled completely and Alexander Downer, Australia's foreign minister, said it would be unpalatable for Zimbabwe to play elsewhere. "It seems to me highly unlikely that the Zimbabwe Cricket Union would want to play the game in another country," Downer told the ABC.
"For them, I suspect, and at least for the Zimbabwean government, it would be seen to be humiliating to acknowledge that they're not able to play against the top cricket team within their own country. My guess is that this won't come about."
Downer said relocating the three matches to a neutral venue, such as South Africa, would be less of a propaganda win for Robert Mugabe. "The worst possible thing that could happen would be that our team would actually go to Zimbabwe," he said. "Zimbabwe would have to put up with the humiliation of acknowledging that the best cricket team won't play in their own country."