Australia is scheduled to play three one-day internationals in Zimbabwe in September. They should not go. Furthermore, they should not pay the $US 2 million break fee for not going.
It doesn't take rocket science to understand why. Playing international cricket in a country which has been governed into an absolutely ruinous state would be a sign of ceremonial largesse of the most unspeakable obscenity. Inflation is running at more than 2000 per cent per annum, 38 per cent of the population are malnourished (source: World Food Programme), 85 per cent are unemployed, about a quarter have HIV/AIDS, and President Robert Mugabe rules dictatorially, violently suppressing opposition and silencing contrary opinion in the media.
I guardedly defended Zimbabwe's place as a host nation in the 2003 Cricket World Cup, an opinion I tend to regret today. In any case, the situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated horrendously since then. How could anyone justify the continuance of sporting relations with this tragic nation as if everything was just hunky-dory?
The ICC's reputation, for what it was, has taken a battering over the running of the recent World Cup, and that should make Monday's pathetic It's-got-nothing-to-do-with-us epistle totally predictable.
But it's worth remembering that, like most international governing bodies - sporting or otherwise - the ICC is an organisation of its members. A dysfunctional organisation, indeed. We know that popular opinion in Australia, England, New Zealand are all opposed to sporting relations with Zimbabwe in the current circumstances. But what of the other ICC full members? We know that Pakistan and Sri Lanka have their own seriously preoccupying internal political problems. But what about India? Does the Indian government approve of Robert Mugabe? Does the BCCI have a conscience about Zimbabwe's ruinous condition? And what, indeed, are the sentiments in Mbeki's South Africa?
There are sound arguments following Zimbabwe's performance at the 2007 World Cup that they are nothing more than a cricketing minnow these days. But that aside, the humanitarian reasons for withdrawing Zimbabwe from all international cricket, and not just Tests, are compelling.
The ICC simply can't just wash its hands of the implications of the Future Tours Program Agreement. It's time for the full board of the ICC to either reaffirm or deny Zimbabwe's ability to host international cricket. And let any member who votes to reaffirm stand in damnation.
Please see my Zimbabwean national page for my previous articles on this matter, and follow the evolution of my thoughts...