| The likes of Streak are still welcome to return to the fold, but the captaincy issue has to be decided
Calcutta: Hours before the specially-convened summit on Zimbabwe, the country’s cricket supremo, Peter Chingoka, took a conciliatory stand by declaring “the door hasn’t been shut on any cricketer (read rebels).”
Contacted in Dubai on Wednesday evening, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) chairman told The Telegraph: “Be it Heath Streak or whoever, anybody who wishes to return to the fold, is welcome… The door hasn’t been shut on any cricketer.”
Chingoka’s remarks are significant as Thursday could see the ZCU being upbraided by the International Cricket Council (ICC), which has convened the summit to try and end the nasty face-off in Zimbabwe which began with Streak’s removal from the captaincy on April 2.
Besides Chingoka, the special invitees are: Board of Control for Cricket in India president Jagmohan Dalmiya (a former ICC chief, by the way), Cricket Australia chairman Bob Merriman and United Cricket Board of South Africa president Ray Mali.
Chingoka, however, was non-committal about Streak getting back the captaincy.
He said: “We’re working on a way forward… One road features the rebels, the other doesn’t… I mean, an alternative has to be there… Where the captaincy is concerned, that will be decided by the next board (after the end July-early August elections)… Beyond that, I can’t say anything.”
Chingoka, though, quickly added: “I must strongly clarify that cricket in Zimbabwe isn’t run on racial lines… It’s unfortunate that some people have been spreading lies…”
Asked if there was an apprehension that Zimbabwe may actually lose Test status (granted in 1992), he countered: “But why should we even think on those lines' On what grounds can we be deprived'”
Chingoka continued: “Our Test record certainly isn’t the worst (eight wins and 42 losses in 75 games). As for the team which takes the field, it boils down to picking from among the best available… We’ve done that… Moreover, as I’ve told you, we haven’t shut the door on anybody.”
He insisted that the ZCU sacked the rebels a second time, on May 21, as they “presented a fresh set of pre-conditions.”
Incidentally, Chingoka informed that “not once” had Merriman indicated (in one-to-ones) that Australia would push for Zimbabwe being stripped of Test status.
“We’ve spoken to each other two-three times, but not once did Mr Merriman suggest Australia favoured a change in status-quo,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Dalmiya — who is going to play a key role in the summit — iterated he hasn’t landed in Dubai with a formula.
Speaking exclusively, he stated: “Informal discussions have begun, yes, but nothing will fall into place tonight.”
Whatever, one expects much behind-the-scenes work to be completed when Dalmiya and the summit host, ICC chief Ehsan Mani, have a tete-a-tete over dinner.