x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Zimbabwe to discover fate

The ICC is to make a formal announcement on Zimbabwe's future as tension starts to mount on what action should be taken.

The Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe listens to speeches at the African Union summit.
The Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe listens to speeches at the African Union summit.

DUBAI // The International Cricket Council (ICC), world cricket's governing body, is to make a formal announcement today on Zimbabwe's future in the international game as tension mounts within the organisation over what action to take against the country.

The ICC board, which is made up of the heads of the 10 major cricket playing countries, is meeting in Dubai for its annual conference with Zimbabwe high on the agenda. However, with opinions varying amongst ICC members, the Zimbabwe issue was not even discussed as the board decided to deal with other matters on its agenda. That freed up the whole of today for discussions on the cricketing future of the southern African state. It is also hoped that a 24-hour delay will allow time for behind the scenes negotiations to try to solve the Zimbabwe issue and avoid any major splits within the ICC.

One of the options favoured by members is for the country to opt out voluntarily from international cricket, while another would see its limited overs side suspended. An ICC source said: "The board felt that Zimbabwe will take up a lot of time so it was decided to get other matters out of the way so that we can focus on the most important issue. "Everybody agrees that we have to reach some decision."

As the ICC board gathered at Dubai's Westin Hotel for its conference, officials remained at loggerheads over what action to take against Zimbabwe. Countries such as England, Australia and South Africa want Zimbabwe suspended from the ICC insisting that the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in the southern African state means that it has no right to take part in international cricket. India, the most powerful and wealthiest nation in the ICC, is opposed to such a move and continues to back Zimbabwe. It is being supported by Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

There must be a majority of at least seven countries within the ICC board for any decision to be binding and Zimbabwe also has a vote on its future. The situation has become even more complicated after it emerged that the West Indies, initially in favour of suspending Zimbabwe, has now changed its position and is no longer willing to back any form of cricketing sanctions. The executive board could discuss whether Zimbabwe should be temporarily barred from one-day and Twenty20 internationals.

Such a move, if successful, will keep Zimbabwe out of next year's Twenty20 World Cup to be staged in England. @Email:vchaudhary@thenational.ae