McGrath set to tour with Australia 'for good of Zimbabweans'

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The Independent Online

Australia's players are expected to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe before beginning their tour next month following Stuart MacGill's withdrawal and reports that at least seven other squad members have doubts about visiting the country.

The fast bowler Glenn McGrath said he would not be "totally surprised" if there were more withdrawals before the 14 May departure from Brisbane.

McGrath said he respected MacGill's decision not to tour Zimbabwe, but that he would travel for the good of the Zimbabwean people.

McGrath - back from a nine-month lay-off because of an ankle injury - decided to make his return to international cricket on the tour which will comprise of two Tests and three one-day internationals.

"I totally respect Stuart's decision," he said. "He is looking at it from the political side and I totally agree with that. I have a slightly different point of view on it. I've got a lot of friends that live in Zimbabwe that I've spoken to and I base my decision more on the locals there and the fact that they're looking forward so much to us touring."

The Yorkshire batsman Darren Lehmann said he also had some reservations. "I did have a few doubts about whether to tour, but I spoke to one or two people and came to the conclusion that it would be useful for Australia to travel. If we don't tour, it could hasten the end of Zimbabwean cricket, and I don't see why cricketers should be used as political pawns."

* Sanath Jayasuriya became his country's record run-scorer in one-day internationals yesterday as Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe by nine wickets in Bulawayo. Jayasuriya scored 31 to pass Aravinda de Silva's 9,284 by three runs as Sri Lanka cruised past Zimbabwe's 136 all out, finishing on 139 for 1.

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