The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Stay away from Zimbabwe’
- Streak’s appeal to all countries

London: Former Zimbabwe skipper Heath Streak has demanded all international teams stay away from the strife-torn African nation until a solution is found to the bitter civil war which has left the country’s cricket in turmoil.

Streak’s sacking as captain two months ago by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) led to a boycott by 15 white players who have since refused to play for their national side and have been sacked.

As a result, Zimbabwe were crushed by Sri Lanka 0-2 in the recent Test series and 0-5 in the one-dayers which, in turn, led to the postponement of the Test series between the home side and Australia which had been due to start in Harare on Saturday.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief James Sutherland also said that they will push for Zimbabwe to be stripped of the Test status in the ICC meeting next month.

England are scheduled to tour Zimbabwe later this year.

“If England were to come it would suggest they agree with what is going on in Zimbabwe,” Streak said. “I don’t think any country should be coming to play cricket in Zimbabwe until they have fixed the problem, whether it be England, Australia or Bangladesh.”

The impasse between the rebels and the ZCU was created after the players demanded widespread changes to the way the game is run in Zimbabwe.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back was during the Bangladesh series when one of the directors reconvened the selection panel and ordered them to re-select the side,” Streak claimed.

“This re-selection was ordered on racial grounds. He wanted more black players and this was quite a worrying fact compounded by the fact that another director offered to pay a double match fee for a white guy to sit out a match for a black guy, which coach Geoff Marsh and I refused to be involved in,” Streak said.

“And one of the provincial organisations, Mashonaland, basically held the ZCU to ransom and told them if they did not change the racial make-up of the team they would boycott, stage a pitch invasion and possibly dig up the wicket.”

It was also claimed that some of the young black players, already in the national side, were against selection on non-merit basis, which included the replacement of Streak with 20-year-old Tatenda Taibu as leader, but were threatened if they made a stand.

“We are working to eradicate racism and any ethnic cleansing there is in any community whatsoever,” said Streak. “We want to play in an environment that is fair to everyone irrespective of who they are and what colour they are. I think all the stakeholders in Zimbabwean cricket just want the best 11 cricketers on the field.

“What is sad for me, though, is they are risking the futures of all the young black and white players — they will miss out playing international cricket because of poor administration and policies.” (AFP)

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