International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed today reacted to the Australia Government’s announcement it was banning the Australia cricket team from touring Zimbabwe later this year.
"It is not the role of the ICC to make political judgments," said Mr Speed. "That is for politicians; the ICC is a sporting organization and our role is to ensure that the game of cricket is played wherever possible.
"Our policy has been consistent since 2004 as, under the terms of the Future Tours Program Agreement, if the government of one of the Members refuses 'to grant a consent, exemption, approval or clearance or imposes any restriction or prohibition' on its team to tour another country, these circumstances constitute acceptable non-compliance.
"In this instance it appears the Australian Government has acted in this way.
"It is unfortunate for Zimbabwe’s cricketers and supporters, all of whom need exposure to top-quality cricket in order to develop as players and to encourage future generations to take up the sport.
"As for whether the matches can take place in a neutral venue, given the choice between that and those matches not taking place at all we would obviously prefer them to be played.
"That will be for the two Boards to work out but we would encourage them to look at all options.
"From an ICC perspective, we will work with Zimbabwe Cricket and our members to try to ensure the game there gets the support it needs in order to continue at this difficult time."