Zimbabwe news September 10, 2010

MCC cancels Zimbabwe visit

Cricinfo staff

The MCC has cancelled its fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe after receiving government advice not to travel there, which means a proposed tour of the country by one of the club's representative teams is unlikely until the advice changes. The development is another blow to Zimbabwe's attempt to return to the international fold, after Scotland also followed their government's advice and reversed a decision to tour Zimbabwe for an ICC Intercontinental Cup fixture.

"There has been insufficient progress in the fundamental issues of political reform to justify sports tours to Zimbabwe by British teams, including county sides," the UK sports minister, Hugh Robertson, said. "The positive signal such tours would send would not be appropriate."

The MCC was to send a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe after a request from Andy Flower, England's coach and former Zimbabwe captain, to explore the possibility of rekindling cricket ties with the country. John Stephenson, the MCC's head of cricket, had met with David Coltart, Zimbabwe's minister of sport and culture, and Andy Whittall, former Zimbabwe Test bowler and MCC member, for discussions.

The UK government, however, still had concerns about Peter Chingoka, who heads Zimbabwe Cricket. "The problem is simple," Robertson had said in August. "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."

The MCC said it had been advised not to visit Zimbabwe at the present time. "We are monitoring the situation as closely as possible in Zimbabwean cricket," a spokesman was quoted as saying by the Guardian. "As soon as the advice changes we'll act on it very quickly."

Ireland, however, had confirmed they would be traveling to Zimbabwe for an Intercontinental Cup match and one-day series in September.