A VOTE on whether Zimbabwe should be suspended from the International Cricket Council (ICC) was yesterday delayed by a further day.
The ICC’s Dubai meeting has progressed slowly, and a decision on Zimbabwe’s status is now only expected later today. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), along with the South African board, have already cut ties with Zimbabwe.
But support for Zimbabwe is growing in the Asian sub-continent with India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka set to back them
“Apparently the situation is on a knife’s edge but it seems that unless a compromise on cricketing grounds can be reached, Zimbabwe will survive this attempt to suspend it from the ICC,” said BBC cricketcorrespondent Jonathan Agnew from Dubai.
“India, the powerhouse, remains steadfast in its support of Zimbabwe but there is the realisation that this will seriously jeopardise next summer’s World Twenty20 (in England) and condemn international cricket to a series of boycotts and acrimony.”
For Zimbabwe to have their full member status removed, at least seven of the 10 members at the board meeting would need to support the expulsion.
But if the Asian countries side with Zimbabwe, who also have a vote, the proposal would be defeated.
The ECB has already stated it will not host a tour by Zimbabwe next year.
This was after Cricket South Africa broke off relations with their near neighbours because of the political situation in the country.
But Sri Lanka sports minister Gamini Lokuge, speaking to the BBC’s Sinhala Service, said: “I think we should not get sports involved in political issues.
“There has been a military regime in Pakistan for a long time. But Pakistan was never banned from playing international cricket.”
He stressed Sri Lanka’s policy did not mean the country condoned the political situation there.
The Pakistan Cricket Board, meanwhile, has made it clear it will send its A team on a tour to Zimbabwe in August as scheduled, irrespective of any action taken by the ICC.
Former chairman Shaharyar Khan added that if he were still in charge of the PCB he would vote against Zimbabwe.
But the Press Trust of India has quoted a PCB spokesman as saying: “We don’t think Zimbabwe cricket should face penalties because of political issues in that country. We will not support any sanctions.”
If Zimbabwe remains a full member, England’s hopes of hosting next year’s ICC World Twenty20 tournament could be put in jeopardy.
Although the ICC would not take punitive action against the ECB for preventing Zimbabwe touring in the light of a formal government instruction, refusal to allow a full member to take part in the World Twenty20 could result in the tournament being moved elsewhere.
The UK government will reassess the situation if the ICC insists that Zimbabwe play in the World Twenty20 but is holding a firm line in its calls for a boycott because Zimbabwe Cricket is accused of having close links with the government of president Robert Mugabe.- BBC Sports.