The national teams of Ireland and Scotland are scheduled to tour the country in October for Intercontinental Cup matches against the second-string national side, Zimbabwe XI.
The Intercontinental Cup is a first-class competition for world cricket’s tier two nations, but Zimbabwe were allowed to field their second-string team to prepare for a Test comeback.
At the height of Zimbabwe’s political squabbles, England, Australia and New Zealand refused to tour or host Zimbabwe on moral grounds.
But these influential cricket nations appear to have warmed up to the new setup in Zimbabwe. Already Zimbabwe Cricket have announced the national side’s return to Tests next May, and even the Australians have agreed to host a Zimbabwe team next year.
But it appears the Irish and Scotts are not ready to engage the Zimbabweans.
The fixture, along with Zimbabwe’s other three ICC Intercontinental Cup home ties, was originally to be played at a neutral venue as part of an understanding struck when the game’s governing body admitted Zimbabwe to the event.
Having been exiled from the Test arena since 2006, the decision was taken to include Zimbabwe as a stepping stone to restoring their status, but only on the understanding that their four “home” games would be played elsewhere.
However, Afghanistan and Kenya have travelled to Zimbabwe and Scotland and Ireland are under pressure to do likewise.
Scotland’s Herald online edition reported that Cricket Scotland officials are also privately seething that, by agreeing to a request from Zimbabwe Cricket to allow them to play at home, the ICC have effectively changed the I-Cup rules in mid-competition.
However, unless there are compelling security issues, Scotland may be forced to fulfil the fixture or risk forfeiting the points in a match that they may need to win to reach the final of the I-Cup.
Roddy Smith, the chief executive of Cricket Scotland, said: “We are in discussions with the ICC, Zimbabwe Cricket and the governments in Edinburgh and London.
If there is no directive from the UK government not to travel, we may go because we are part of the ICC family of nations.”
Smith declined to be drawn on the moral issues surrounding Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s human rights record. However, report that understood no player will be forced to make the trip.
Zimbabwe XI, who are currently on tour, are enjoying good
form in the Intercontinental Cup. They beat the Netherlands last week by 137 runs, before completing an innings and 73 runs win over Canada on Wednesday. — Herald, Scotland.