Statement on the Intercontinental Cup match v Zimbabwe XI

Tue, Aug 31, 2010 5:32 PM

The Board of Cricket Scotland has met to consider issues relating to the proposed forthcoming match against a Zimbabwe XI in the ICC Intercontinental Cup competition.

This game, originally scheduled to take place at a neutral venue in Africa, was rescheduled three months ago to be played in Zimbabwe, at the request of Zimbabwe Cricket. Cricket Scotland, although very disappointed at the late change of a previously agreed venue, decided to acquiesce to this request on the basis of the security and Governmental advice received at the time.

New Ministers reviewed this advice and, in a recent formal communication to Cricket Scotland, it was stated: "The Government is firmly of the view that there has not yet been sufficient progress in Zimbabwe on the fundamental issues of political reform and of re-establishing the rule of law to justify sports tours by British teams and the positive signal that would send. We therefore strongly advise against such visits. We recognise that the final decision is for the relevant Cricket Boards, but hope they will consider their decisions carefully in the light of our unequivocal advice."

The Scottish Government supports the stance of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, stating that: "We strongly advise Scottish sports teams against visiting Zimbabwe."

Cricket Scotland’s Board discussed this advice, and also the responses received following discussions with the International Cricket Council (ICC). It is clear to Cricket Scotland that the governing body has been placed in a very difficult situation, with potentially no solution that would appease all parties. In coming to a final decision, all these factors have been taken into consideration.

It is clear that, if the match had gone ahead as scheduled in a neutral African venue, this situation would not have arisen. In subsequently agreeing, in good faith, to play the game in Zimbabwe, we did so with the blessing of the (then) Governments in Holyrood and Westminster, and after receiving security advice.

The subsequent change in UK Government policy is unequivocal and is advising, in the strongest terms, against the Scotland cricket team playing in Zimbabwe. Cricket Scotland accepts, and is proud of, our role within the global cricket family and are delighted that cricket in Zimbabwe has made significant strides forward in recent times. Cricket Scotland’s Board could not ignore direct and unequivocal Government advice. We have therefore informed the ICC that, with regret, the Scotland side will not travel to Zimbabwe.

Commenting on the decision, Roddy Smith, Cricket Scotland’s Chief Executive, stated: "It is hugely unfortunate that Cricket Scotland has been put in an impossible no-win situation in regard to the potential tour to Zimbabwe. Our Board has taken cognisance of all the advice and recommendations from Government and the ICC, and can only take what we believe is the correct course of action. Both the UK and Scottish Governments were clear in their advice to us. Although accepting that this decision will not be welcomed by some key partners, we felt that as a responsible governing body we could not, and would not, contravene the direct and unequivocal advice from Government. We hope that the Scotland team can look forward to playing in Zimbabwe again in the future if and when Government policy allows."

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