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The decision, which was announced at a meeting in Harare on Wednesday, means that Zimbabwe's two-Test tour of the Caribbean, scheduled for April and May, will now not take place, despite earlier assurances to the contrary from Peter Chingoka, the chairman.
Given that Chingoka met with the ICC chairman and chief executive, Ehsan Mani and Malcolm Speed, last week, it is inconceivable that this course of action was not discussed. As was the case when Zimbabwe excused themselves from Test cricket in 2004, it is likely to have been done with the ICC's blessing and been welcomed at their headquarters in Dubai.
Though they are to sit out of Test cricket for the foreseeable future, Zimbabwe Cricket remains hopeful that the five-match one-day leg of their Caribbean tour will go ahead as planned. The news, however, will not go down well with the West Indies board who less than a week ago were assured by Chingoka the full tour was on.
"While the side goes through the programme to prepare it adequately for the rigours of Test cricket, ZC has no doubt that the team will be competitive in its ODI commitments under the Future Tours Programme," added Chingoka, who hoped that the team would resume its Test status on the tour to Sri Lanka in February 2007.
According to a ZC press release, the decision to suspend its participation in Test matches was reached after consideration of the recent performances by the national and A teams. "The young teams remain full of potential and hopes abound for their development into a strong and competitive performer on the Test arena.
"ZC is now putting in place a programme to galvanise the development of the Zimbabwe squads," the release concluded. "It will work with other Test nations and the ICC itself to realise this objective."