Cricket: NZC on alert after more unrest in Zimbabwe

By Dylan Cleaver

Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson with fellow batsman Martin Guptill.
Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson with fellow batsman Martin Guptill.

A fresh wave of civil unrest in Zimbabwe has New Zealand Cricket on alert as the Black Caps prepare to tour the country this month.

Zimbabwe went into shut-down yesterday as foreign banks and businesses closed in the capital Harare in protest at the country's dire economic situation. This followed violent clashes between police and taxi drivers on Monday that saw 95 people arrested.

The Harare protest coincided with widespread strikes in the civil sector - doctors, nurses and teachers - over unpaid salaries.

New Zealand-based players are due to fly to Africa on Monday but a pre-tour camp in Pretoria will give NZC time to closely monitor the situation. If the unrest escalates, a decision could be made to delay arrival in Zimbabwe.

"We are monitoring closely what is happening in Zimbabwe," NZC public affairs manager Richard Boock said. "There are no plans to delay the players leaving New Zealand.

"While in camp in Pretoria we will be able to keep an eye on what is going on. South Africa 'A' are in Harare at present and we will be liaising with South Africa Cricket and the British high Commission in Harare."

Zimbabwe is in the grip of drought and, according to reports, faces an acute shortage of cash. Protest movement #ThisFlag was started in April and has gained traction, with residents speaking out about the poverty huge swathes of the country face and corruption within the Robert Mugabe-led government.

There have been threats to arrest those spreading subversive messages and to institute an internet blackout.

Yesterday it was reported that the government tried to block popular messaging service WhatsApp to stop the spread of protests.

New Zealand are scheduled to meet Zimbabwe in two tests, both in Bulawayo. The first test starts July 29 at Queens Sports Club.

The Black Caps undertook a trouble-free three-match ODI series in Zimbabwe last year.

- NZ Herald

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