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Zimbabwe's fate lies with India and Mali

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Mihir Bose | 18:22 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

Zimbabwe cricket chief Peter Chingoka has written to all members of the International Cricket Council, branding any attempt to oust the country from the world game as a political act and not based on any cricketing issues.

I understand Chingoka has pointed out there are no moves to exclude Zimbabwe from other international sports bodies.

Zimbabwe will take part in the Beijing Olympics and it remains a full member of football governing body Fifa, having recently played a World Cup qualifier against Kenya.

Chingoka has also said that Zimbabwe cricket cannot be held responsible for what is happening on the political scene, and while he agrees the cricket authorities did take action against apartheid South Africa, he said that was on the basis of United Nations resolutions.

Chingoka's grievances came in response to an earlier letter from ICC president Ray Mali explaining why he wants Zimbabwe to be discussed at next week's ICC meeting in Dubai.


I understand Mali explained the political situation in Zimbabwe was critical and that he felt it was necessary to discuss the African country at the ICC meeting - he wrote the letter after deciding to put Zimbabwe on the agenda.

The Mali letter does not call for Zimbabwe to be thrown out but this is certainly an option some ICC members would want to consider and, if necessary, adopt.

However India, the key player in the ICC, seems not inclined to take that view.

Key India cricket board officials are due to meet to discuss the Zimbabwe situation when they arrive in Dubai just before the ICC meeting.

Senior Indian sources have told me that this is an important issue where a decision would not be taken by one man and that there would have to be a consensus across their national board.

However, I understand that the Chingoka letter has made an impression on many top members of the board.

One well placed source told me: "If the reason being given for suspending Zimbabwe or throwing them out of the ICC is that the political situation has changed then that makes no sense. What can the cricket board do about that?

"Suppose President Musharraf of Pakistan was to suddenly suspend the constitution and take over the country, would we throw Pakistan out of the ICC? After all he is the patron of Pakistan cricket."

He also told me that the logic of the letter from Mali was "not impressive" and that he feels what Chingoka has said made a lot of sense.

He said any decision taken by the Indian board must be based on cricketing grounds: "It seems the call to throw out Zimbabwe is motivated by the British government in order to help the England and Wales Cricket Board host the ICC World Twenty20 in England next year while keeping Zimbabwe out. That is not a logical argument."

If this turns out to be the Indian board view, then given the weight India carries in world cricket, it seems highly unlikely Zimbabwe will be thrown out of the ICC.


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