India backs Zimbabwe

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> A controversial ICC vote on whether Zimbabwe should retain its full Test status is likely to fall through with India almost certain to block the move.

Updated: July 05, 2008 15:41 IST
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New Delhi:

A controversial ICC vote on whether Zimbabwe should retain its full Test status is likely to fall through with India almost certain to block the move. The four Asian countries are set to vote for Zimbabwe at a two-day meeting in Dubai, which begins today. England and Australia have want suspension of Zimbabwe's status not just because of the dictatorial policies of its leader Robert Mugabe but also because of the country's falling standards in the international cricket.

Zimbabwe enjoyed an upset win over Australia in the league stage of the Twenty20 world cup last year, but such enthralling moments have been few and far between. Zimbabwe's Test status was suspended temporarily in 2006 so as to allow their team to re-build as almost all its international players had left the country, some by will and some by force.

However, Zimbabwe continues to enjoy all the privileges of a full member, which means voting rights, an automatic place in the world cup and a share of the ICC money, which was $11 million last year. An audit into the running of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) revealed huge financial irregularities but the ICC has never discussed the report.

But India's clout in the ICC will make sure that Zimbabwe is not suspended. India has the support of its sub-continental neighbours on this issue. South Africa could also back India. They recently severed bi-lateral ties with Zimbabwe but may not push for an expulsion. That means that the 2/3rds majority that the ICC needs cannot be achieved. Seven of the ten members have to vote for the expulsion.

Niranjan Shah, the secretary for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has said that his organization "would like to fully support Zimbabwe Cricket" in its retention of full member status within the ICC.

Pakistan, which is sending its second-string team to tour Zimbabwe in August, has indicated it will support the African country, while Sri Lanka and Bangladesh usually vote the same way as the other two Asian nations.

The ICC president Ray Mali placed the issue on the agenda of the two-day ICC meeting on Wednesday and Thursday as his native South Africa and England severed all cricketing ties with Zimbabwe in protest at what many Western states say was the lack of free and fair elections that allowed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to win a sixth term last week.

"It's not a political issue, it's a cricket issue. It's not about Zimbabwe's membership in the ICC, either. Not at all. What we are concerned about is how to strengthen the game in Zimbabwe, how to encourage more cricketing interaction with them at any level," ICC President Ray Mali said on Tuesday.

Sadly, India's reasons for backing Zimbabwe are self-centered. Zimbabwe was the only non-Asian country that backed Sharad Pawar as the ICC president. The voting was tied at five for Pawar and five for David Morgan leading to a compromise of 2 years for each of them.

Zimbabwe's full Test status looks all set to re-establish the supremacy of the Asian bloc over the governing body of cricket.

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