London:British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson on Sunday ruled out the possibility of resuming cricketing ties with Zimbabwe, stating thawing of relations is impossible while Peter Chingoka remains president of Zimbabwe Cricket.
Robertson said presence of Chingoka, Zimbabwe cricket's long-serving and controversial chairman, remains the obstacle preventing England resuming ties with Zimbabwe. Chingoka is a key aide of Robert Mugabe regime.
"The problem is simple. Zimbabwe cricket is headed by a man who sits on the EU 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," Robertson said.
"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," the sports minister was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.
Chingoka was banned by the EU and subsequently the Australian authorities over what they claimed was evidence of his close links with the regime of Mugabe. As the head of a Full Member country, Chingoka has support within the ICC, but despite lobbying from various ICC officials, the British government has refused to back down on the ban.
The fact he is denied entry into this country forced the International Cricket Council to move its annual general meeting in June to Singapore and the Zimbabwe team voluntarily pulled out of the 2009 World Twenty20 once it became clear they too would not be given British visas.
But over the past six months there has been a reorganisation of cricket in Zimbabwe and this summer Andy Flower, the England coach, urged the MCC's world cricket committee to send a fact-finding mission there.