Streak gives suspension cautious welcome
Heath Streak, the man whose dismissal as Zimbabwe's captain triggered the current crisis, gave a guarded welcome to the decision to suspend them from Test cricket for the foreseeable future.
"It is certainly a step in the right direction," he told the Press Association. "Hopefully the Zimbabwe Cricket Union [ZCU] are genuine about trying to find a solution to the problems, and perhaps the threat of losing Test and one-day international cricket has brought a few people to their senses. Perhaps the ZCU realise they cannot treat us with disrespect and maybe they realise they need some of the white cricketers they said they could do without after all.
"If the ICC had taken away Zimbabwe's Test status altogether I think it would have been difficult for them to get it back. At least this way it gives Zimbabwe time to find a resolution to the problems, for the ICC to judge whether there is racism and to assess whether Zimbabwe currently have a side strong enough to sustain Test cricket."
But another former player, Stuart Carlisle, told Reuters that the ICC hadn't gone far enough. "If you're going to suspend someone for Tests, why not for the one-dayers," he said. "Zimbabwe should be suspended completely and the problem should be sorted out."
After the meeting in Dubai, Peter Chingoka, the ZCU chairman, said that the rebel players would be welcomed back at any time. "Ours is an open-door policy," he told reporters. "If the players return, we will accept them with open arms. As for the allegations of racism, it is totally unfounded. We have a policy of integration of players without consideration for race."
That cut no ice with Carlisle. "That's very nice of the ZCU, isn't it," he told Reuters. "Until there is arbitration and our main issues are sorted out, you're not going to see any players coming back. The guys need to get on with their lives. We can't keep waiting for the ZCU and the ICC to keep beating about the bush."
But in the offices of the England & Wales Cricket Board the suspension was welcomed. "We greet the news with a degree of relief," David Morgan, the chairman, told the BBC. "We are committed to playing four one-day internationals, and I think there's a logic to it."