New Zealand tour to Zimbabwe off again

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Cricket canceled its June tour to Zimbabwe on Monday but said it may play the matches later at a neutral venue.

NZC chief executive Justin Vaughan said concerns over the stability of the African nation and the collapse of its health system led to the decision which was taken in consultation with the New Zealand government.

“It was a decision made with the Government but we are looking at other options like playing the tour at a neutral venue, most likely South Africa,” Vaughan said. He said the matches might be played in June, 2011. Zimbabwe had raised few objections when informed of New Zealand’s decision, he said.

The series of three limited-overs internationals in Zimbabwe was originally scheduled for July last year but was postponed for 12 months. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key also expressed concerns for the team’s safety.

Key told reporters Monday he had not personally been involved in the New Zealand Cricket decision though there had been discussions with ministers. “The safety and security of the players were the major issues when we last looked at this,” Key said.

“Our players could genuinely be at risk if they went there and that was a risk I was uncomfortable with 12 months ago. I certainly support the action NZC has taken today.” ap

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