11 May 2007


The needless statements from politicians prior to a yes or no statement being released in Australia continues. This time it is PM, John Howard, who had the right sentiments but no answer to the debate.

"I am jammed between my distaste for the government getting involved in something like this and my even greater distaste for giving a propaganda victory to Robert Mugabe," Howard said to an Aussie radio station. "I think there is some evidence emerging that even in those countries that would be very reluctant to see the ICC do anything, that something ought to happen. How long can the international cricket community - not just Australia - go on doing things that give aid and comfort to somebody who has thus far been totally impervious to any entreaties?"

I couldn't agree more. I hope the members of the ICC that are against calling off of tours to Zimbabwe can sleep at night. But there are those that don't think pulling out will do much good and one of them, Geoff Marsh, is someone who should have a pretty good grasp of the situation in Zimbabwe having coached the national side from 2001 to 2004.

Marsh's comments were, "The feeling I get - and it's the opinion of some of my Zimbabwean mates as well - is what difference will stopping a cricket tour make? Whether it's the right or wrong thing to do is another matter, but, in real terms, I just wonder what it will achieve. I generally don't like to see sport and politics mix. I think strong action definitely needs to be taken but I think it has to happen in areas broader than just sport. It is a beautiful country that has become a living hell for a lot of people."

But perhaps last word on this issue (for today at least) should be left to Henry Olonga, who bravely wore a black armband to signal the death of democracy in his country at the 2003 World Cup, along with Andy Flower. Olonga's views are simple, "The picture they've tried to paint to the rest of the world is that if the reigning world champions are willing to tour Zimbabwe, then there can't be too much amiss. Once in a while, once or twice in your career perhaps you have the opportunity to make a real difference in a way that is above just another bundle of Test wickets or another couple of hundreds."

I, for one, hope that someone is listening to Olonga amongst the ICC members who currently think that tours to Zimbabwe should go ahead as planned.

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