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OZIAS BVUTE, head of the Zimbabwe Cricket delegation in Pakistan, said they undertook the tour to fight the politics of isolation in the game which almost ruined the game here when a number of nations chose not to come under the pretext their security could not be guaranteed.

The former ZC managing director was roped in at the last minute to help salvage the tour last week, amid concerns it could be scraped as considerable pressure was exerted on the domestic cricket chiefs to reconsider their decision to send a team to Pakistan.

The Chevrons became the first Test-playing cricket side to tour Pakistan, a country that stood in Zimbabwe’s corner, when some countries fought a battle for this country to be stripped of its Test status after a row between the authorities and a number of white players about 10 years ago.

The team’s arrival in Pakistan was big news on all the major international television channels in the world.

Yesterday, Bvute addressed the media in Pakistan and said Zimbabwe, themselves victims of the politics of isolation in the game, could not watch by and see the Asian country’s game destroyed because teams were not touring that country.

The media conference was held at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, the very scene of the militants’ attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in March 2009, that forced teams to stop touring Pakistan because of security concerns.

“For many years, as you know, Zimbabwe was isolated and, therefore, we understand the politics of isolation,” Bvute said, telling journalists the tour will strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.

“We have, therefore, said ‘no’, isolation is not the right way in order for brothers to relate to one another.

“We must break the barriers that exist between us and, in order for us to do so, we must interact. We are, therefore, here to affirm our position that brotherhood supersedes everything else and that cricket is what unites each and every one of us.

“The decision we took was a decision whereby we were saying, for many years, we have gone through turmoil, in so far as our cricket structures were concerned, and the weapon that was used against us was that teams would not tour Zimbabwe and they would always say there were issues about safety and security in Zimbabwe, which statements were not true, but they were statements that were wantonly thrown all over the world.

“No one can ever guarantee your security anywhere in the world, I could walk in what is perceived to be the safest place on this planet and anything can happen. Certainly, the risk profile differs from country to country, the risk will not always be the same but the principle remains and the principle is that we have come to play cricket.

“We hope that we will give you a decent show. Obviously, the Pakistan cricket team is a much ger team than the Zimbabwean one, my boys are, however, confident that they will give it their best and we will give you a show worth remembering.”

Bvute conceded there was concern last week, whether the tour should go ahead or not, after an attack in Karachi but said the authorities, at the end of the day, took a decision they considered was in the best interest of not only Zimbabwe but international cricket.

He refuted claims that some players were pushed into the tour.

“Obviously, human nature is such that it’s a common human tendency to spread malice and rumours. The position is that our players were offered an opportunity to voluntarily come to Pakistan, they accepted that position and that is why we have a full-strength team,” said Bvute.

“Nevertheless, a few days prior to our arrival, there were the unfortunate things that occurred in Karachi and, being humans, these events, obviously, unnerved a lot of people and more or less created some doubt in members of our fraternity whether or not it was the right thing to do (touring).

“We weighed the pros and cons of what we wanted to achieve and what we want to achieve is to be able to play cricket with our brothers and so we are here to affirm that position that, regardless of the various opinions that are being preferred around the world as to why we are here, we are here to play cricket and we will play cricket.

“They (players) are all here voluntarily.

“The conditions are, obviously, different, life is such that the seasons are not always the same, sometimes you have summer, sometimes you have winter and so this happens to be a time in Pakistan life when security is a major concern but I’m sure, like everything we experience, it will all come to an end and you will go back to enjoying cricket as you used to be before and the arrangements that you have made for us are arrangements of a temporary nature.

“Long after this is done. I’m sure that stadiums will continue to fill. You can never really kill the spirit of the human being and the spirit of the human being is such that for the things they value they will do everything to uphold and hold on to and, certainly, the people of Pakistan love cricket, cricket is a religion to them and we are happy that, in some small way we are aiding towards uplifting some joy.

“And I’m sure there are so many little kids on the streets of Pakistan who have not been able to see their heroes playing for so long and if we can contribute to ensuring that they can see their heroes alive and well, playing in their own nation, we are more than delighted to be doing that.

“We come here as brothers, we come in peace, our intentions are not political, they are merely to uphold this value and this thing that we all cherish, which is cricket, and I hope the cricket fans of Pakistan and the Pakistan people will not that our decision is based on that desire and nothing all.”

Bvute was also asked if they hadn’t snubbed the Sports Commission by going ahead with the tour and he said, as far as he knew, everything was done above board.

“The system of sport in Zimbabwe is that we are governed by the Sports and Recreation Commission.

“The Sports and Recreation Commission wrote to the Zimbabwe Cricket Board a letter and, in that letter, they indicated that the final decision as to whether the Zimbabwe Cricket team would tour Pakistan or not, sorely rests, with the Zimbabwe Cricket Board.

“Our chairman Wilson Manase took a decision and the decision was that we were going to tour Pakistan. His Board and players are supportive of the decision that was taken. Ultimately we are here and it’s testament of the fact that cricket is played and cricket is a winner.

“Cricket is bigger than any one of us and we hope that by coming here we have shown that cricket is and will be the winner.”

Zimbabwe skipper Elton Chigumbura said this was a good opportunity for the players.

“Obviously, for us as players, any opportunity we take it, cricket is our job and we are here to do our job and hopefully it will be a good series against Pakistan,” he said.

“As players we are not worried, I know Pakistan have done a lot to secure us to be safe.

“The good thing about cricket is the team that plays well on the day wins the game.”

Source : The Herald