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Breathing space for everyone
- DUBAI SUMMIT - No change in Zimbabwe’s Test status; Allegation of racism by rebels to be probed
Ehsan Mani

Calcutta: With both the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Zimbabwe adopting a pragmatic approach, Thursday’s specially-convened summit in Dubai has given breathing space to the parties concerned.

Besides Zimbabwe, the extraordinary summit was attended by India (represented by Jagmohan Dalmiya), Australia and South Africa.

“We haven’t got the top prize, so to say, but are reasonably happy with the outcome,” remarked Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) chairman Peter Chingoka, when contacted late in the evening.

Ehsan Mani, the ICC president and host, had this to tell The Telegraph: “The (rebels’) issue needs to be addressed step-by-step… Today, we’ve taken step No.1… Most important, the integrity of Test cricket isn’t going to suffer.”

With Zimbabwe agreeing to “defer” their Tests against Pakistan and England, due in October-November, the ‘threat’ of being stripped of Test status disappeared faster than the quickest Ferrari in the glitzy Emirate.

Peter Chingoka

Significantly, despite what Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland suggested last month, sources informed that Australia didn’t call for a change in status-quo.

“Australia did make the point about not devaluing Test cricket, but at no time did CA chairman Bob Merriman indicate that Zimbabwe must pay for fielding a second-string XI,” is how one source put it.

Among the decisions reached — all, by the way, will be placed before the ICC’s Executive Board in London on June 30 — is the “probe” into charges of racism by Heath Streak and his fellow rebels.

The Executive Board is going to appoint an “eminent authority” and it’s then that a time-frame will be set.

“Basically, we are going to select somebody with the highest integrity, an eminent person… And, clearly, he will be independent of the ICC, the ZCU and the rebels,” Mani pointed out.

While the ICC and Zimbabwe agreed on most issues, they disagreed on the world body’s locus-standi to “intervene” by referring the ZCU-rebels’ problem to the Disputes Resolution Committee.

Legal opinion favours the ICC and, if that continues to be contested, the ZCU could be in for real tough times.

Incidentally, while talking exclusively, Chingoka revealed that the ZCU is also going to explore “alternative routes” to end the face-off.

It’s to be seen how the Executive Board reacts to everything agreed upon in Dubai, but the ZCU has certainly got enough time to script a formula for ending the problem which began with Streak’s removal from the captaincy on April 2.

Meanwhile, according to a report from the UK, Streak hasn’t responded enthusiastically to the developments.

“The longer this goes on, some of us have got big decisions to make… We won’t turn down a potential offer on a wing and a prayer that things will come right,” he said.

Perhaps, he should be a bit more positive.

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