ICC committee recommends no comeback yet
Zimbabwe's hopes of returning to Tests receives a blow
May 31, 2007
No Test cricket for Zimbabwe until they 'demonstrate the ability' to perform at a good standard © Getty Images
Zimbabwe's hopes of resuming playing Test cricket have been dealt a hammer blow by the ICC Cricket Committee which met in Dubai this week.
The newly-constituted committee, chaired by Sunil Gavaskar, has recommended that the ICC does not allow Zimbabwe to return to the Test arena "until such time as the team demonstrates its ability to perform at a standard that does not risk undermining the integrity of Test cricket". It continued: "In order to be able to judge when Zimbabwe's performance merits a return to Test cricket, the committee felt the team first needed to continue in its current practice of playing a number of representative four-day matches. The committee encouraged the scheduling of such matches against ICC Full Member A teams and Associates with, for example, the inclusion of Zimbabwe in the next ICC Intercontinental Cup."
Although the recommendations still have to be discussed by the ICC executive when it meets in London at the end of June, they will make it much harder for Peter Chingoka, the ZC chairman, to persuade other members that Zimbabwe are ready to resume playing Tests.
It has always been stressed that Zimbabwe's suspension was at their own behest, but there have been increasing concerns that the standard of their side is now so poor as to threaten the ethos of Tests.
Zimbabwe first voluntarily suspended themselves in 2004. They returned to Tests in January 2005 but of eight matches between then and their second withdrawal in January 2006 they lost all but one by massive margins, with the one drawn match being severely disrupted by rain. They have also won only one of their last 19 ODIs.
If the committee's recommendations are accepted then Zimbabwe could be added to the eights countries in the 2007-08 Intercontinental Cup which gets underway next month and runs until late 2008. That would enable them to play four-day matches against the leading Associates as well as other series against A teams.
There is unrest, especially among the Associates, that Zimbabwe continue to be heavily funded by the ICC - they are about to receive US$11.5 million from the World Cup - and yet they do little more - less in some instances - than Associates such as Ireland, Scotland and Kenya who receive a fraction of that money.
I gather the windies tour to zimbabwe will be off.