Test return will harm Zimbabwe
Amid all the celebrations at Ireland’s fightback to tie with Zimbabwe last Thursday, what many overlooked was that the result was another major blow to Zimbabwean cricket. A Test nation, with an income from the ICC of many millions of dollars, should not be humbled by part-timers … although Pakistan showed two days later that lightning can strike twice.
In The Sunday Telegraph, Sycld Berry argues that restoring Zimbabwe’s Test status in November – which is what the Zimbabwe board are telling anyone that will listen will happen – would not only be bad for the game but also bad for the standing of the sport inside the country itself.
Quite apart from the ethics involved in allowing a nation which has Robert Mugabe for head of state to participate in the world community, Zimbabwe seem to be even more unfit for Test cricket now than when they were suspended.
The last of Zimbabwe's Tests was one of their better performances too: they lost by no greater margin than 10 wickets. Their previous seven Tests against countries other than Bangladesh were all lost by an innings and large amounts of runs, South Africa winning one Test in two days.
If the ICC want to help, the world body should organise and fund three years of competitive cricket for these Zimbabwean cricketers. They need to gain the experience of winning; they need a batting and bowling role-model in their side to learn from, and that can only mean an overseas player unless Streak returns. Being plunged again into the deep end of Test cricket from November will do them vastly more harm than good.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa