Referendum key to cricket relations

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Kevin Mapasure
ZIMBABWE Cricket’s bid to restore relations with England and Wales cricket Board ECB received a boost after Sports minister senator David Coltart held three “constructive meetings” with his counterparts in the British government recently.
For ZC to boost its financial coffers and also raise the profile of the game in the country they would need to lure powerhouses England and India to tour the country and also visit those countries for full Test tours.

 
But due to politics, England has postponed most of its commitments in Zimbabwe at the advice of its government.

 
During his visit to London for the 2012 Olympics, Coltart had three meetings with Minister of African Affairs Henry Bellingham, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, as well Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, in an effort to persuade the British government to allow particularly its cricket team to resume relations with Zimbabwe.

 
While all meetings were constructive and made necessary headway in the long-standing issue, Coltart said full restoration (of sports relations) may well depend on the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe which the European union has pledged to do once the country holds a referendum for a new constitution. But the latest stand-off on the establishment of a draft constitution could spell doom on Zimbabwe’s  sporting ambitions.

 
“We had three constructive meetings and the British government is committed to the restoration of sporting relations with Zimbabwe,” said Coltart. “I am now confident that if we keep the GPA process on track the British government will, for example, continue to support our efforts to revive education and full sporting links will be restored in the not-too-distant future.”

 
The restoration of sporting ties would benefit cricket more than any other sport as tours have been postponed time and again.

 
Zimbabwe need England to tour if they are to benefit fully from the financial benefits that come with test cricket in particular.

 
To show progress is being made three County sides are set to tour Zimbabwe this year.

 
“I understand two or three county sides will be touring Zimbabwe which in itself shows we have moved towards our goal.”

 
Former national team coach Dave Houghton is at the centre of a deal for the county sides to visit Zimbabwe.

 
England last toured Zimbabwe in 2004, but it was not without hitches as there were several threats of the team withdrawing as it did in the 2002 World Cup where England refused to tour Zimbabwe for its group match.

 
Coltart was instrumental in the restoration of ties with Australia and New Zealand who both sent “A” sides to Zimbabwe last year.

 
Zimbabwe then toured New Zealand for a Test match, One-Day-International series as well as  Twenty20 series.

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