ICC fact-finding mission arrives in Zimbabwe
The team, led by president of the West Indies Cricket Board Dr Julian Hunte, will seek to establish the current state of cricket in Zimbabwe as it relates to the management and development of the game and also to conduct an assessment of the policies and programmes executed with the view to restoring the senior team to Test cricket.
Hunte and Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, will carry out a detailed inspection of the cricket administration, facilities, resources and capabilities in the country. Hunte will then make recommendations to the full ICC Board when it next meets in January. An ICC statement said that "these recommendations will include constructive strategies and initiatives to assist Zimbabwe to improve its cricket in all respects and to aid its return to Test cricket as soon as possible".
The last ICC inspection was in 2006 soon after Percy Sonn took over as ICC president. Critics of Zimbabwe Cricket complained at the time that the trip was stage-managed by the board and the inspection team only saw what ZC wanted them to see. Subsequent Cricinfo inspections of a number of grounds revealed a crumbling infrastructure.
The visit comes against the backdrop of freshly-escalating violence inside Zimbabwe as power-sharing talks between Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change break down, unemployment running at 80%, inflation at 231 million % and the United Nations predicting millions could be starving within months.
Besides Hunte and Lorgat, the ICC task force includes Arjuna Ranatunga, the former Sri Lankan captain and presently chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket.
Steven Price is a freelance journalist based in Harare