Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister John Howard joined British premier Tony Blair’s call for a cricket World Cup boycott of Zimbabwe as the row over its co-hosting of the event intensified Monday.
Zimbabwe chief government spokesman Jonathan Moyo responded by saying Britain and Australia wanted to keep “cricket White” by pulling out. “If the British and the Australians want to keep cricket as a White and colonial sport, then they should do so alone because we are not interested in their rubbish,” Moyo told the official Herald newspaper.
“This is obviously not about safety and security, it is just political mumbo-jumbo,” Moyo added.
Zimbabwe received support from Pakistan and World Cup organiser Ali Bacher of co-hosts South Africa while the Australian and English team captains have called for politicians, rather than players or administrators, to make the final decision.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair had confirmed his government was opposed to England playing there but would leave the final decision to the England and Wales Cricket Board.
On Sunday, Blair wrote to opposition leader Iain Duncan Smith spelling out the British government’s stance.
“The Government’s position is clear: the decision on whether England should play in Zimbabwe rests with the ECB — an independent sporting body,” the Prime Minister wrote. After Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s comments on Sunday, British international development minister Clare Short too has called upon England to pull out of their World Cup match in Harare February 13, saying it would be “shocking and deplorable” to play there.
Players cry off decision
Meanwhile, Australian captain Steve Waugh said it was a difficult question and not one for the players.
“If John Howard is stepping in then the Australian Cricket Board will become involved and I think it’s up to those people to make a decision. The players don’t want to be involved in political decisions,” Waugh said.
England captain Nasser Hussain repeated that he felt it was a government decision. Hussain said he would be meeting with ECB chief executive Tim Lamb in Sydney ahead of the fifth Test starting on Thursday to discuss the Zimbabwe situation.
“I’ve said quite openly that I would like the government and politicians in England to help probably make the decision for us,” Hussain said.