Zimbabwe step up lobbying to retain Test status

Published: Tuesday, June 8, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) chairman Peter Chingoka is stepping up his campaign for the country to retain Test and international status through continued full membership of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

He left Harare for Dubai on Tuesday with ZCU directors Charles Barnes and Macsood Ebrahim for discussions with ICC president Ehsan Mani and the cricket board chairmen of Australia, India and South Africa. Barnes is on the development committee and Ebrahim is a national selector.

Just before going, Chingoka said that it was to be a "liaison" meeting and would be concerned with "mapping our way forward to try to get greater experience in competition (for the new young Zimbabwe team) and finding a formula for that."

However he is unlikely to miss such a good opportunity to lobby for Zimbabwe's retention of Test and international status as one of the 10 full members of the ICC, a position it has held since election in 1992.

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union has already accepted in principal that its new young team might not actually play any more Test cricket for a year, or even two, following two huge defeats by Sri Lanka in May. They would not object to a moratorium on Test cricket.

But Chingoka will be working hard in Dubai, and again in London at the ICC executive meeting later this month, to keep Zimbabwe in cricket's top echelon.

Australia and South Africa are known to be offering Zimbabwe assistance in developing their effectively second string of mostly black players.

And as India is already a "mentor" of Zimbabwe -- they were the initial supporters of the country's introduction to Test cricket and the first team to tour Zimbabwe -- they are likely to give additional help.

The Zimbabwe team that has replaced the mostly white experienced professional team average only 20 years old and five of them are teenagers. In normal circumstances they would need three or four years to develop into international class players.

There is next to no prospect of a return by the 15 dissenting whites, who went on strike two months ago after former captain Heath Streak was sacked.

All player contracts are up for renewal or initiation in August. But most of the dissenting whites have found other cricket work in Australia, South Africa or England. Streak has just begun a three-month contract with Warwickshire.

The inexperienced Zimbabwe side, thrown into the deep end and recently suffering a succession of heavy defeats, is therefore all Zimbabwe can offer up for competition at the moment.

Chingoka can only try to buy as much time as possible for them. By the end of the month Zimbabe should know whether this is an option acceptable to the ICC and the nine other Test countries.

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