London: England and Australia ought to boycott their World Cup fixtures in Zimbabwe while Robert Mugabe is president of the African country, former England captain David Gower said on Sunday.
“I don’t think it is right that England should be playing a match in Harare on February 13, 2003, or on any other day while the Robert Mugabe regime remains in power in Zimbabwe,” Gower wrote in The Sunday Times.
“Nor do I think the Australians, as the other main Commonwealth nation involved in the same World Cup group, should honour their fixture in Bulawayo 11 days later,” he said.
Six matches in the World Cup, taking place primarily in South Africa, are scheduled to be hosted by Zimbabwe, three in Harare involving England, India and Namibia and another three in Bulawayo featuring Australia, Pakistan and the Netherlands.
Fears had been expressed over player safety after political upheaval and violence in Zimbabwe following implementation of the Mugabe government’s controversial land reforms.
The ICC, however, has defended its stand on giving the go-ahead to the matches scheduled to be held in Zimbabwe. “The ICC is a cricket organisation and we make decisions based on cricket issues. We are not a political organisation,” ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed told BBC radio Sunday.