Zimbabwe news August 13, 2010

Chingoka the block to England resuming links with Zimbabwe

Cricinfo staff

Peter Chingoka, Zimbabwe cricket's long-serving and controversial chairman, remains the obstacle preventing England resuming cricketing ties with Zimbabwe.

While Zimbabwe's rehabilitation into international cricket continues apace with an increasing number of overseas coaches and players heading for the country, it had been hoped England would consider restoring links with the country. But Hugh Robertson, the new sports minister, told the Daily Telegraph that could not happen while Chingoka remained in office.

"The problem is simple," he said. "Zimbabwe cricket is headed by a man who sits on the European Union banned list and he sits on that list for good reasons. As long as he is in charge of Zimbabwe cricket it is extremely difficult for them to be fully integrated into the global cricketing community.

"Officially government advice remains we discourage teams from playing. England will be discouraged from travelling over there and it is difficult for them to come here while their chairman remains on the banned list. It is very difficult to welcome a team here if the chairman cannot get a visa to enter this country."

Chingoka was banned by the EU and subsequently the Australasian authorities over what they claimed was evidence of his close links with the regime of Robert Mugabe. As the longest-serving head of a Full Member country, Chingoka has support within the ICC, but despite vigorous lobbying from various ICC officials, the British government has refused to back down on the ban.

Chingoka's ban caused the ICC annual meeting in June to be switched from London to Singapore and has caused a grossly disproportionate amount of time to be wasted in ICC meetings.

While many inside Zimbabwe believe Chingoka, who has been in office since 1992, would best serve the game by stepping down, he appears reluctant to do so, even though he appears an increasingly peripheral figure.