seems like a half reasonable alternative. Although, what about Australia playing a "Zimbabwe State of Origin team" in a neutral location. Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Murray Goodwin, Heath Streak, Neil Johnson, Henry Olonga, Stuart Carlisle, Tatenda Taibu, Andy Blignaut, Douglas Hondo, Scott Brant. theres an XI and a fuckin good one. (I know half of them are approaching 40, but they better than the current Zimbo team that may or may not play Australia, who would not beat an Australian U18 state team).
Zimbabwe matches may yet go on
AUSTRALIA and Zimbabwe could play their scheduled cricket series at a neutral venue, despite the Federal Government banning the tour to avert a propaganda coup for Robert Mugabe's regime.
Prime Minister John Howard today announced the Federal Government had ordered Cricket Australia (CA) not to proceed with the planned September tour of Zimbabwe for a series of one-day games.
He said it wasn't fair to leave it up to young sportsmen to decide whether to participate.
As a great fan of the game, Mr Howard admitted the decision pained him.
But Australia had no alternative but to send a message of condemnation to President Mugabe, whom he branded a "grubby dictator".
"In less extreme circumstances, the government would not wish to penalise cricket lovers in Zimbabwe or Australia," Mr Howard said.
"However, a tour by the World Cup champions to Zimbabwe would inevitably be used as propaganda by this appalling regime.
"President Mugabe has trashed Zimbabwean democracy, enriched himself and his cronies, subverted the rule of law and presided over the systematic and brutal oppression of that country's civil society and political opposition."
CA accepted the decision but said it would work with the Government in the hope of playing the Zimbabwe games at a neutral venue.
"We are obliged to do what we can to help Zimbabwe cricketers and we could help them by playing somewhere else," chief executive James Sutherland said.
"We are discussing with the Government where we could play Zimbabwe at a neutral venue."
A likely spot for any neutral-venue clash could be South Africa, where the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup will be held later this year.
But Mr Howard said he feared this option could expose Zimbabwean cricketers to persecution in their home country, as they could be seen to be supporting enemies of President Mugabe.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer expressed reservations about playing against Zimbabwe at all, even on neutral territory.
"I think it's best not to play against Zimbabwe for the time being if that can be avoided," he said.
"I don't think (a neutral clash) is very likely to happen as I doubt very much the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, or for that matter the Zimbabwe government, which no doubt runs the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, would allow Zimbabwe to be humiliated to the extent they accept that the international community refuses to come to their country."
Once President Mugabe was replaced as leader and Zimbabwe was liberalised, the sporting link would resume, Mr Downer said.
"While this obnoxious regime is in place we are not having the world's greatest cricket team go to Zimbabwe."
CA said the Government ban meant it was not liable under International Cricket Council (ICC) rules for a $2.4 million compensation payment to Zimbabwe.
CA had been reluctant to call off the tour itself, as it could have been liable for fines that could have ended up in the hands of President Mugabe's supporters.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting said he was comfortable with the Government ban.
"I'm comfortable that the Australian Government has taken the responsibility for making international affairs decisions on behalf of the country," Ponting said.
Labor said the ban was the most appropriate course of action.
"Our cricket team shouldn't go," deputy Labor leader Julia Gillard said to the Nine Network.
"This is an abhorrent regime, one that's marked by political violence against its political opponents.
"We shouldn't be giving any propaganda coups to this regime by allowing our cricket team to go there."
Zimbabwe's ambassador to Australia was not available for comment today.