A WEST Indies senior official is in Zimbabwe to assess the security situation in the country ahead of the Caribbean side’s scheduled tour next m
The jury has been out on the scheduled five-match one-day international series since July when West Indies politicians barred the Caribbean’s A side from fulfilling a tour of Zimbabwe on security grounds.
West Indies could face a US$2 million fine if they don’t fulfil the series — scheduled on the ICC Future Tours Programme — for any other reason other than a government order.
The political situation in Zimbabwe has been under the world’s spotlight since opposition politicians were brutally assaulted by government agents in March.
But West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) cricket operations manager Tony Howard yesterday appeared to downplay the security concerns, saying his visit to Zimbabwe was only a “normal pre-tour” assessment.
Howard is accompanied by a security expert, ex-Zimbabwean Darren Maughan, who is based in Canada.
The duo yesterday met Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi and is scheduled to see Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri today.
“We are not here to assess the security situation in Zimbabwe as such, but on a normal pre-tour assessment,” Howard told IndependentSport yesterday. “Security is only one aspect of our mission here and that’s why I have a security expert travelling with me.”
Howard said he would report back to the WICB who would make the decision whether the tour should go ahead or not.
The WICB is likely to be encouraged that India A, South Africa A and their senior team as well as Sri Lanka A have toured Zimbabwe without encountering any security threats.
“The minister (Mohadi) was charming, but my duty is to report back to the WICB first,” Howard said.
Howard’s counterpart at Zimbabwe Cricket, Chris Chiketa, said the West Indies delegation had concerns they wanted clarified.
“They are in the country for a pre-series tour, which is standard practice,” Chiketa said.
“They had a few concerns which they wanted clarified, but we’ve made it clear there’s no risk. They brought a security expert and it appears they are quite happy after having a look at the grounds, team hotel and the road from the airport.”
Chiketa said the West Indians also wanted to assess the food situation in the country.
Zimbabwe has been facing acute food shortages since the government ordered businesses to slash prices of their goods and services to pre-June 18 levels in a desperate fight against inflation.
“Their security expert, Maughan, used to stay here and has relatives around. He was here three months ago and he admits the situation in terms of food at hotels has improved. So there’s no problem at all about that.”
Chiketa said the West Indies tour was unlikely to include two four-day matches Zimbabwe Cricket had requested.
“The itinerary we are working with has five ODIs. ZC had requested four-day games to be added to the tour, but that issue has not been taken further yet,” he said.