Zimbabwe Test exile continues

V.V. KRISHNAN

Zimbabwe has been in decline as an international cricket force since a race row in 2005 led to the dismissal of former captain Heath Streak (below).

Zimbabwe’s exile from Test cricket is set to continue, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced, amidst reports of financial corruption which the global governing body said it would investigate.

An ICC statement, issued after a two-day executive board meeting in London, said: “Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) reported it is not yet ready to return to Test cricket; it was agreed it would report back when it felt it was ready to step up so that the ICC board could make a decision on the matter.

“In relation to allegations of financial irregularities levelled against ZC, it was agreed there would be an independent audit of ZC’s accounts by an internationally recognised firm. “The results of that audit will be presented to the next meeting of the ICC Board, set for October 2007 in Dubai.”

Zimbabwe have been in decline as an international cricket force since a race row in 2005 led to the dismissal of former captain Heath Streak.

In total 15 senior players, all white, were sacked, a move that sparked a chain of events that saw Zimbabwe temporarily suspended from Test cricket before the country’s own officials effectively exiled the national side from the five-day game.

Australia, the world’s leading Test and one-day side, in May called off a proposed tour of Zimbabwe, due to take place in September, after players were banned from travelling to the African nation by Prime Minister John Howard, a fierce critic of the policies of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

Cricket’s bias towards batsmen keeps growing with ICC giving its nod to a change in playing conditions which empowers a batsman to go for a free-hit without fearing a dismissal in the delivery following a front-foot no-ball.

The International Cricket Council okayed a number of changes to playing conditions at its annual meeting.

Accordingly, if a bowler bowls a front foot no-ball in a ODI, the following delivery will be deemed a free hit and the batsman cannot be dismissed by the bowler from that delivery.

The changes would come into effect from October 1, the ICC said in a statement.

It has also decided that an additional fielder would be allowed outside the fielding circle during the second or third power play in an ODI.

In case an one day innings is reduced, the number of overs making up each of the three power plays shall be reduced proportionately.

There will also be a mandatory change of ball after 35 overs of each innings in an ODI. The replacement will be a clean, used ball.

The ICC also decided that the minimum boundary sizes in all international matches will be increased with the square boundary measuring at least 150 yards from one side of the ground to the other.

* * * Refreshing experience

Former India skipper and All Star basketball player Jayasankar Menon returned from Srinagar with a refreshing experience of working with world renowned American coach J. D. Walsh. The two had joined hands to inject confidence through the medium of basketball to children, who had become orphans in the wake of disturbances in this region.

R. RAGU

CHINAR, a social organisation for child nurture and relief, had brought together these two basketball personalities to work with the kids, teach them the basics of basketball and bring some psychological relief to them. There were 22 kids in all in this two-day special camp held at the Burn Hall school ground in Srinagar.

For Jayasankar the visit served two purposes. He was able to be with the children who had no one in this world and give them a sense of security. He was also able to meet the globe-trotting coach, Walsh. After the short stint in Srinagar, Walsh went off to Taiwan for a six-week camp for professional teams there, Jayasankar said.

Jayasankar also organised a separate camp at the request of the Burn school authorities for its students. Needless to say, this Chennai-based manager with Indian Bank felt honoured with the �unbelievable� experience he had gone through.

S. R. Suryanarayan