Exclusive - ICC executive meeting January 23, 2009

ICC meeting goes ahead without Chingoka

Cricinfo staff

Peter Chingoka: absent from Perth after refusing to submit a visa application © Getty Images
The ICC's executive meeting in Perth at the end of the month will go ahead, but without Peter Chingoka, the chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket.

Chingoka was banned from entering Australia by the authorities earlier this month because of what it stated were his links to the Mugabe regime. The ICC, whose executive made clear last summer that it would not allow meetings to go ahead unless all its members were permitted to attend, had been lobbying the Australian Foreign Office to grant Chingoka a visa.

However, Cricinfo has learned David Morgan, the ICC president, was told by Stephen Smith, Australia's foreign minister, that a decision whether to issue the visa could only be made if Chingoka actually submitted an application. Chingoka refused, despite lobbying from senior ICC officials, insisting that he be guaranteed entry before he applied.

Given that Chingoka has been in Bangladesh watching Zimbabwe play ODIs there over the last week and is now believed to be in India, it is clear that no application has been, or will be, made by him.

With all executive members having booked flights to, and made hotel reservations in, Perth a decision was made in the last few days to proceed without Chingoka. It is possible he will contribute by means of a telephone link-up from Harare.

Chingoka's stubbornness has left some ICC members unimpressed. Morgan has been publicly pushing the Australian authorities, while behind the scenes it is understood that Sharad Pawar, the ICC vice-president and India's agriculture minister, has also been trying to put pressure on them. It now seems that their efforts were pointless.

This echoes what happened last year when the ICC moved its annual meeting because the UK authorities refused to make a decision whether to allow Chingoka in until he submitted a visa application, which he refused to do. On that occasion, Chingoka's tactics paid off and the meeting was moved away from London for the first time in 99 years.

He was subsequently barred from entering or transiting through the European Union, again because of links to the Mugabe government.