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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 AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
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Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.