Britain looked set to follow Australia in banning cricket cooperation with Zimbabwe as the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it had opened talks with British cricket authorities about canceling a 2009 tour of Britain by the Zimbabwe side.
According to the British press, Downing Street said no firm decision has been taken in the matter, but that Mr. Brown will soon hold talks with the England Cricket Board to seek its cooperation in scrapping the two matches scheduled for next year.
Reports said officials of the International Cricket Council and England Cricket Board have already met to discuss what is taken to be an impending cancellation.
Under ICC rules, the ECB could be obliged to pay as much as 225,000 pounds sterling to Zimbabwe in compensation for canceling the two one-day matches.
But the British organization would be exempt from penalties as Zimbabwe is no longer officially classified as an international test-playing nation.
Former Zimbabwe cricketer and U.K. resident Henry Olonga hailed Mr. Brown's move to bar the Zimbabwean team from British soil, saying such an action would show the government of President Robert Mugabe that Britain means business on issues including human rights, economic reform and free and fair elections.
Olonga told reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe he hopes Brown’s move will lead other cricketing nations to follow suit.