Thursday, June 30, 2005

Run Out

I confess. Cricket is my favourite sport and I was actually looking forward to the Zimababwe tour as an opportunity for NZ to boost their batting & bowling averages after a difficult summer. But of course, it's election year, so the tour is perfectly timed to make cricket into a political football despite NZ having toured Zimabawe with little fuss four times in the past decade.
I am somewhat surprised that Phil Goff, by joining forces with only Australia and England expects to pressure the ICC to 'stand up' to Zimbabwe, without even attempting to ask India for help as they will be touring Zimabawe and playing in a tri-series with NZ at the same time.
As Richard Boock wrote in today's NZ Herald,
The ICC isn't run by stuffy Brits any more, it's run by the combined weight of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, the West Indies and Zimbabwe.
The only teams that have had issues touring Zimbabwe in recent times are the 'white' countries - England, Australia and NZ. We like to call it 'making a stand for human rights' whereas other members of the cricketing world call it 'western arrogance and hypocrisy'. Given that the 'white' countries are eagerly pursuing free trade agreements with nations like China, can you really blame them? It's all very well for governments to 'stand up for human rights' when they themselves have nothing to lose.

Where do we draw the line on banning sports tours? Zimbabwe's principal political backer is the government of South Africa, so should the All Blacks and the Black Caps call off their respective tours there later this year? What about the military dictatorship in Pakistan? They don't even have Zimbabwe's nominally "elected" government yet we welcome their leader into our country with open arms. If the government is going to prevent New Zealanders travelling to countries who do not have 'spotless' human rights, again, where do you draw the line? Are we going to prevent NZ citizens from being 'allowed' to travel to countries who do not have perfect records on respecting human rights?

So what's going to happen? the government could pay the fine, but it's not $2 million. It's a US$2 minimum fine, as well as paying for any losses incurred by the host country. Is paying the Mugabe government upwards of $50 million any more palatable than touring there under protest? And the punishement doesn't end there, NZ Cricket could face suspension from world cricket for up to two years. So what would we really achieve? Zimababwe cricket would incur no financial losses, NZ Cricket would be destroyed and the Mugabe government would still be doing what they are doing.

The prospect of bankrupting NZ Cricket over Zimabawe for cricket fans like myself would be devastating and futile, so what I propose is that while in Zimababwe NZ Cricket removes all sponsorship logos from the players uniforms and replace them with that of Amnesty international or a similar organisation, to make our point that NZ finds the behaviour of Mugabe's government intolerable. I think that would send a stronger message than simply not turning up at all. The team could also wear black armbands in show of solidarity with former Zimababwe cricketers Henry Olonga and Andy Flower who bravely wore them in the 2003 World Cup to mark the 'death of democracy' in Zimababwe

Interestingly, a series between an All-Asian and an All-African team which will include Zimabawe's cricketers is to be played from August 15-21 in South Africa at the same time as NZ are touring Zimababwe. This gives a strong hint that Zimabawe does not expect NZ to tour anyway.


llew said...

Possibly the best solution I have heard to this dilemma. Well done.

llew said...

Also - nice crack about body fat & tax cuts.

Aaron Bhatnagar said...

What a good idea. Great blog post.