Zimbabwe retained as ICC full member, official says

Published: Friday, July 4, 2008, 12:21 [IST]
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Strife-torn Zimbabwe will remain a full member of the International Cricket Council, an official said on Friday, after the deeply divided world body worked out a last-minute compromise.

The ICC Executive Board, meeting for an unscheduled third day here, agreed to keep Zimbabwe in its fold after the African nation acceded to India's request to pull out of next year's World Twenty20 championships in England.

The British government had made it clear it would not issue visas to Zimbabwean cricketers which could have forced the ICC to move the lucrative tournament out of England.

Zimbabwe Cricket Union president Peter Chingoka told AFP his country had voluntarily pulled out of the event.

"Zimbabwe has agreed not to participate in the Twenty20 world championships in the wider interest of cricket," Chingoka said.

"But we will continue to be a full member of the ICC and welcome any team that wants to play against us.

"We voluntarily agreed to back out of the Twenty20 Worlds because we were told we won't get visas to England. We don't want to gate crash where we are not welcome."

The cricket boards of South Africa and England last week suspended bilateral ties with Zimbabwe in protest at the deteriorating political situation in Harare, where President Robert Mugabe was controversially re-elected.

While England and South Africa wanted Zimbabwe to be suspended from the ICC, the Asian bloc -- led by the game's commercial powerhouse India -- opposed the move.

India convinced Zimbabwe to reach a compromise at a late-night meeting on Thursday, an Indian board official told AFP.

The ICC was expected to confirm Zimbabwe's position at a press conference later on Friday.

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