New Zealand likely to tour Zimbabwe next year

Wellington: New Zealand are looking to resume cricket tours of Zimbabwe next year as a measure of political calm returns to the African country, officials from both nations said on Tuesday.

A scheduled tour to Zimbabwe this month was postponed by New Zealand Cricket, the second time the tour originally scheduled for the middle of last year had been put off.

But New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan, after meeting Zimbabwe’s Sports Minister David Coltart in Christchurch, said Tuesday that a tour by the national team was on the cards next year.

Vaughan said New Zealand’s Minister for Sport and Recreation Murray McCully had a “positive meeting” with Coltart in Wellington this week.

“It is clear from that meeting that our government’s position is that they would not oppose New Zealand touring Zimbabwe next year,” Vaughan said.

A second-string New Zealand team could also tour Zimbabwe in the near future but any trips would be dependent on security, he added.

The planned tour this year was cancelled after the New Zealand government expressed concerns about player safety.

Zimbabwe has been battered by a decade of political turmoil and increasing poverty, but the situation has calmed somewhat after President Robert Mugabe and rival Morgan Tsvangirai formed a national unity government last year.

Coltart, a member of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, said there would be no security problems for touring teams.

He said he told McCully and Vaughan that security and health problems had been dealt with and that a tour to Zimbabwe by New Zealand would be “a positive development”.

“I think there is a greater openness to tour now, which I’m delighted about,” he told Radio New Zealand.

While there remain human rights concerns in Zimbabwe, progress is being made under the unity government, Coltart added.

Bureau Report