The ICC will discuss the future of Zimbabwe cricket at their executive meeting in Dubai next week, according to David Morgan, the president-elect, speaking during the launch of the ICC World Twenty20 at Lord's.
Yesterday, Cricket South Africa cut its ties with Zimbabwe Cricket following further deterioration of the political situation. "The ICC has never concerned itself with how member countries are governed," Morgan said. "However, yesterday Cricket South Africa announced that they were scrapping bilateral contact with Zimbabwe Cricket. It has been decided to put Zimbabwe on the agenda of the executive board meeting of the ICC which takes place next Wednesday in Dubai.
"Cricket South Africa's decision yesterday is hugely significant," Morgan added. "Clearly they will want something done. They're very influential in terms of southern African cricket and Zimbabwe is part of that. Quite where the various members will stand on it I really don't know - all of this is new as of five o'clock yesterday."
Crucially, Ray Mali, the ICC president, said that the issue to be discussed was "Zimbabwe's membership", hinting that there was a possibility that they could be expelled as a Full Member. He told the BBC that he had endorsed Cricket South Africa's decision, adding: "I have written to Zimbabwe saying their future in international cricket will be put on the agenda and this issue will be discussed at our meeting next week."
"He [Mali] believes there is a danger that supporters of one political party will not be allowed to play or support cricket," Morgan added.
The ICC has previously shown little inclination to make any strong statements on Zimbabwe, but recent events are likely to force their hand especially as South Africa have been long-time supporters of Zimbabwe. An ICC insider told Cricinfo: "As every day passes, Zimbabwe's status looks less and less tenable."
Zimbabwe have been placed in group A of the ICC World Twenty20 but their participation in the event is in increasing doubt. If they have to be replaced a third Associate nation will be added to the tournament.
Britain's prime minister Gordon Brown has been vocal in his condemnation of the violence in Zimbabwe, and stated yesterday that Robert Mugabe's regime 'should not be recognised by anyone'. "Under the current circumstances it is the government's view that the tour would clearly be unwelcome," a spokesman for the prime minister told the Press Association. "We would also have serious concerns about Zimbabwe participating in the Twenty20 World Cup.''