Another job but the same issues April 26, 2008

Old ghosts return to haunt Morgan

David Morgan: 'I have the greatest sympathy with the people in Zimbabwe and their cricketer' © Getty Images
David Morgan, the ICC president-elect, said that he was confident that next year's ICC World Twenty20 would be held in England despite the deteriorating political relationship between Zimbabwe and UK.

The first casualty was the ICC's annual conference in July which has been switched to Dubai because Peter Chingoka, the Zimbabwe chairman, was not able to obtain a visa to enter the UK before an ICC-imposed deadline.

Morgan was at Lord's to explain the reasons behind the decision to send Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, on gardening leave for the remaining nine weeks of his contract. But it was almost like old times as questions from the media kept returning the thorny issue of Zimbabwe. It was a subject that had caused him more than a few sleepless nights in the six years he was chairman of the ECB and it seems set to stalk him during his two-year tenure as ICC president which starts in June.

With the "fundamental breakdown" of Speed's relationship with Ray Mali, the ICC president, and other unnamed board members coming to a head over the issue of Zimbabwe, Morgan probably expected the subject would be high on the agenda.

Asked why the ICC had refused to publish the independent forensic audit into the affair of Zimbabwe Cricket, Morgan said that it had been a unanimous decision following a proposal by Norman Ardense, the CEO of Cricket South Africa. "I was present and listened to the debate and the board was unanimous. The thinking behind it reflected the extremely difficult trading position that exists in Zimbabwe and it was very clear that the report identified no particular individuals who were guilty of any financial mismanagement or malpractice. It's on that background that the board decided the report shouldn't be made public

"I was present at that board meeting in a non-voting capacity, where I simply assisted the president," he went on to explain. "What I'm prepared to say about Zimbabwe is that I think the situation there is very difficult. I have the greatest sympathy with the people in Zimbabwe and their cricketers. Both those that have remained in Zimbabwe and those that have moved to play cricket in other parts of the world."

Morgan was then asked for his opinion of Chingoka. "He's not a problem as a person or as chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket," he replied. "He is an important contributor to the work of the ICC."

But whatever his views, Chingoka casts a shadow over next year's ICC World Twenty20 and rumours that the ICC will move the event will not go away, despite Morgan's insistence that the issue had not been discussed. "I accept there is a great deal of speculation around where the 2009 Twenty20 will be relocated," he said. "I do not believe there is a significant threat of that happening.

"The ICC World Twenty20, in my opinion, will go ahead. I'd be very surprised if that didn't happen ... I'm expressing the view that the World Twenty20 will go ahead here. I can't go into any more detail than that."

As for Chingoka's visa issues, Morgan said that he was unaware of the reasons behind the refusal of the authorities to allow him into the UK last year, adding that he had not asked Chingoka if he had received an explanation.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo