ICC's centenary celebrations January 2, 2009

ICC hopeful of visas for Zimbabwe officials

Cricinfo staff


Haroon Lorgat: "We need to convince some of the key members that the Test championship is the route to go" © Getty Images
 

The ICC will table a report on the state of the game in Zimbabwe at its board meeting at the end of the month and will make a special request to the Australian government that Peter Chingoka, the Zimbabwe Cricket chairman, be allowed to attend. Chingoka and Ozias Bvute, the managing director, were put on Australia's banned list last month for being associated with the president Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF regime.

Perth will host the meetings on January 31 and David Morgan, the ICC chairman, was "hopeful" Chingoka would gain a short-term visa. "Certainly Mr Chingoka was allowed into the UK on two occasions after the initial application was put on hold," he said. "We're making strenuous efforts to try to ensure a visa will be made available for this specific purpose."

While the Australian government considers Chingoka an inappropriate guest, Morgan said the ICC believed he should be granted access for the meeting of the "top committee for our sport". "That is our policy," Morgan said. "We realise that the Australian government may not grant a visa."

Chingoka and Bvute have been in charge of the administration in Zimbabwe during a period when they have lost Test status, watched most of their best cricketers leave the country and also dealt with accusations of severe financial irregularities. The ICC sent a delegation to the country in November that was led by Dr Julian Hunte, the West Indies board president, and included Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, and Arjuna Ranatunga, the former Sri Lanka captain.

While Lorgat would not signal what would be in the document, he said the group did not speak with government or sports ministry officials. "We confined our investigation to Zimbabwe cricket itself, to the level it's being played in, the facilities that are available and the structures that produce a team capable of playing Test cricket," Lorgat said. "I cannot pre-empt what will be in it.

"The task team will table the report and the board must decid how to deal with it, and whether to release it." Previous investigations into the state of the financial situation in Zimbabwe Cricket were suppressed by the ICC.

On a day when the ICC wanted to celebrate its centenary year, Lorgat and Morgan were instead forced to defend the organisation from its stance on Zimbabwe. The ICC's mission statement was read out to the administrators, which includes values of "openness, honesty and integrity". "We certainly aren't going to change the mission statement and we seek to fulfil the mission," Morgan said. "It certainly isn't the most easy of tasks."

 
 
While the Australian government considers Chingoka an inappropriate guest, Morgan said the ICC believed he should be granted access for the meeting of the "top committee for our sport"
 

Scheduling is another problem faced by the ICC and its wish for a Test championship has not been supported by India and England, who are looking to regular five-Test series. "We need to convince some of the key members that it is the route to go," Lorgat said. "There are some concerns about the volume of cricket that is needed to be condensed in the cycle that is proposed in that Test championship. It's very much a work in process. I think it would create better context for Test cricket."

Crowds for the format are dwindling throughout most of the major countries and day-night Tests are being viewed as an option to help keep it popular for spectators. If a ball that can last and be seen under lights is developed, Lorgat said he would be favour of the changes.

The past year also witnessed an explosion in the popularity and quantity of Twenty20 cricket, while several tours and competitions were postponed due to security concerns. "The game faces challenges - safety and security, player workload, balancing formats, ensuring a competitive balance between ICC Members, staying on top of corruption and plenty more besides," Lorgat said.

"Cricket has always faced challenges just as big, if not bigger, than those currently confronting us -Bodyline, illegal bowling actions in the 1950s and 1960s and corruption, to name just three. The key we all need to remember is that cricket has always dealt with those past challenges and is now, as a result, stronger than ever."

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