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Australians may spend least
time necessary in Zimbabwe
Brian Murgatroyd in Centurion |
February 14, 2003 11:51 IST
Australia are looking into the possibility of delaying their trip to Bulawayo until February 23, just 24 hours before their World Cup Group A match there against tournament co-hosts Zimbabwe.
Under a proposed travel schedule, the defending champions would then return to South Africa immediately after the match against Heath Streak's side.
Australia are scheduled to travel to Bulawayo on February 21, the day after their game against the Netherlands in Potchefstroom, but the team's management is now considering reducing the amount of time the squad will spend in Zimbabwe.
"At this stage, our existing plans are still in place," team manager Steve Bernard told Reuters on Thursday.
"However, we are exploring the possibility of spending the minimum amount of time necessary in the country, given the circumstances, which are obviously delicate at this time."
Those delicate circumstances include the ongoing treason trial of Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, as well as widespread hunger and unemployment in the strife-torn country.
Bernard said the move to look at revising the team's travel plans was not an indication the match was in jeopardy.
He added it was neither a reaction to England's refusal to travel to Harare for their scheduled game against Zimbabwe on February 13, nor to increased anxiety about the situation among Australia players.
"At this stage, there is nothing to suggest the match will not go ahead," he said. "It is certainly not a case of our players prompting this look at our travel plans. It is simply a case of the team's management looking at the best way to handle this situation."
If Australia do alter their travel plans, they could decide to stay in Potchefstroom for an extra day before traveling to Johannesburg on February 22, a day ahead of the proposed flight to Bulawayo.
Australia cancelled their previous scheduled visit to Zimbabwe in April 2002 because of safety and security concerns during the re-election of President Robert Mugabe.
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