BBC BLOGS - Mihir Bose
« Previous | Main | Next »

Zimbabwe future on ICC agenda

Mihir Bose | 12:38 UK time, Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Ray Mali, president of the International Cricket Council (ICC) has told me what is happening in Zimbabwe is "no longer cricket", indicating his unhappiness with the effect the situation is having on the game.

He also revealed that South Africa, which has broken cricket relations with Zimbabwe, consulted him before doing so. "I endorsed their decision," Mali told me.

Speaking before he left London at the launch of the Twenty20 World Cup for the ICC's annual meeting in Dubai, Mali said: "I have written to Zimbabwe saying their future in international cricket will be put on the agenda and this issue will be discussed at our meeting next week."

Mali refused to be drawn on what the decision might be, but the tenor of our conversation suggested Zimbabwe may well be excluded from the ICC.

Such a decision would mean Zimbabwe will not be invited to take part in the Twenty20 World Cup in England next year, or be invited to tour the country before the tournament.

This would then resolve an issue that has been concerning the British government, which has said a Zimbabwe cricket visit for Twenty20 matches and any warm-ups would be "undesireable".

As long as Zimbabwe is a member of the ICC, it cannot be stopped from competing, under the terms agreed by cricket's world governing body and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

The ICC has previously made it clear it would take the tournament away from England if it prevented Zimbabwe from touring.

Indeed, the British government's decision not to grant Peter Chingoka, president of Zimbabwe Cricket, a visa saw the ICC move its annual conference, normally held in London at Lord's, to its headquarters in Dubai.

This is the first time in the near 100-year history of the ICC that the conference is not being held in England.

However, if Zimbabwe is suspended from the ICC, there would be no question of the country taking part in the Twenty20 World Cup.

Mali's endorsement of South Africa's decision to break relations with Zimbabwe marks a major new development in the international body's relations with the troubled country.

Ever since the Zimbabwe cricket crisis emerged four years ago, there has been a division in international cricket broadly along the lines of the old white countries of the Commonwealth keener to break ties than the Asian block, led by the Indians.

Zimbabwe has retained its international status because of the support of South Africa and India.

Now South Africa, prompted by Mali, the former head of Cricket South Africa, seems to have come up with an African answer for Zimbabwe.

What remains to be seen is what India will do.

India is the economic powerhouse of cricket. It produces 80% of world cricket's income and its voice is very important in the ICC.

If India follows South Africa's lead, then Zimabwe's future in international cricket seems doomed.

A decision to ban Zimbabwe would come as a great relief to the ECB, which finds itself in a difficult position.

The British government is not keen for Zimbabwe's cricketers to visit Britain but preventing them doing so could see the ECB lose the Twent20 World Cup.

Given the revenue and interest the short form of the game generates, they will not want to risk this happening.


or register to comment.

More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.