Black Caps campaign a cause of national shame

The All Blacks are heroes but the Black Caps are zeroes – isn’t it time the NZC showed some true leadership, asks Tony Smith.

Close to half a million people turned out to parades in the three main centres after the All Blacks’ broke their 24-year Rugby World Cup drought.

They basked not only in the All Blacks’ knife-edge victory but in the afterglow of the staging of a highly successful international sporting tournament.

Supporting the All Blacks became a point of national pride. Following the Black Caps campaign in Zimbabwe has become a cause of national shame.

It’s impossible to summon up any enthusiasm about the Kiwi cricketers’ Harare hijinks. Ross Taylor and his men are pawns in a sporting farce which serves only to offer succour to the tyrannical Robert Mugabe regime.

It’s not the Black Caps’ fault entirely – although it would be nice to see some of our top cricketers take a moral stand as ex-All Blacks Graham Mourie, Bruce Robertson, Bob Burgess and Ken Gray did in refusing to play rugby against the Springboks in the apartheid era.

They were able to, of course, because rugby was still amateur in the 1970s and ’80s. The Black Caps play cricket as a job. They are contractually obligated to New Zealand Cricket, who are, in turn, indentured to the International Cricket Council (ICC).

That puts NZC between a rock and a hard place. If they took a stand on principle – as any responsible national sporting organisation should – the ICC would slap them with a seven-figure fine for breaching the future tours agreement.

The New Zealand government refused to allow Zimbabwe to tour here in 2005 but the ICC warned NZC it would be fined $2m if the Black Caps pulled out of their planned visit to Zimbabwe the same year.

NZC could afford to pay $2m now – it announced a $2.6m profit yesterday.

It would be money well spent.

Someone has to show some true leadership in international cricket.

The ICC is simply the most morally bereft sporting body in the world – some achievement when the field includes Fifa and the International Olympic Committee.

Amnesty International reports that tortures, illegal detentions of human rights advocates and mass evictions of families and children continue in Zimbabwe two years after self-styled President Robert Mugabe was forced to share power with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.  Read more

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