Intercontinental Cup could include Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Cricket has told Cricinfo that it is working with the ICC on proposals that it enters a team into the 2009-10 Intercontinental Cup. The tournament features the leading eight Associates who play each other in four-day first-class matches spread over more than a year, with the top two playing-off in a final at a neutral venue.
The idea that Zimbabwe, who have been suspended from Test cricket since 2005, participate in the competition was one of the proposals put forward to the ICC to enable their cricketers to prepare for an eventual return to the Test arena. A ZC spokesman said that the board were “in principle agreeable” and it was sorting out the “finer details” with the ICC.
An ICC source said that were Zimbabwe Cricket to agree it could create potential difficulties for it. “It would, in effect, admit that they were at Associate level, and unless they do very well, there would be a compelling argument for them to be stripped of their Full Member status. Imagine the situation where Ireland or Scotland, whose funding from the ICC is a fraction of Zimbabwe’s, beat them. There could be calls for that anomaly to be resolved.”
There are also issues over where games would be played as some countries involved in the competition still have serious political reservations over travelling to, and hosting, Zimbabwe. Those, however, are not believed to be insurmountable.
The other uncertainty which will need to be addressed by the ICC development committee when it meets later this month is whether, if Zimbabwe Cricket agrees to take part, the competition is expanded to nine countries or one of the existing Associates will be dropped to make room for them. However, it seems highly unlikely that an Associate – and Namibia would be the prime candidate as they secured the eighth and final qualifying slot – will be ditched.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa