Zimbabwe's decision to pull out of the ICC World Twenty20 in England next year is just a one-off decision, the ICC has said. The decision cleared the roadblock for the competition to be staged in England, but Zimbabwe retained its Full Member status in the ICC, a compromise outgoing ICC president Ray Mali termed as a "win-win solution".
The ICC statement read: "The Zimbabwe delegation have agreed to take this decision in the greater interest of world cricket and the ICC. This recommendation should be viewed as a one-off and will not be taken as a precedent."
The boards of England and South Africa had raised the issue of Zimbabwe's Full Member status going into the ICC board meeting in Dubai, but India is believed to have played a major role in brokering the compromise. Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, said Norman Arendse, the Cricket South Africa president, highlighted Nelson Mandela's recent comments, in which he mentioned "the tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe".
"This statement was quoted during the board meeting by Norman Arendse, the chairman of Cricket South Africa and had a significant impact," Clarke told the Independent. "Nelson Mandela is a legendary figure and, as Mr Arendse said, he is a modern-day saint. His pronouncements carry weight." But it was Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, who managed to persuade the Zimbabwe delegation, led by Peter Chingoka, to pull out.
"We have reached a conclusion that is undoubtedly the right one for cricket," Clarke told the Times. "Norman [Arendse] was very strong and when Sharad [Pawar] determined what he thought was the right course of action, there was no doubt what would happen. He made a very, very significant decision.
"I am very pleased with the agreement. We made our position absolutely clear all along, that Zimbabwe would not be coming, and that was the right position," Clarke said. "I was determined that it would be settled by us in the boardroom and that our players would never again be put in the situation where they had to make decisions." David Morgan, the new ICC president, had said the issue of Zimbabwe's membership was never discussed at the board meeting.
Meanwhile, Haroon Lorgat, the new ICC chief executive, praised Chingoka's role in effecting a resolution, and said politics must be kept out of cricket. "We cannot as a sports governing body be mixing the issues of politics with sport," Lorgat told the Gulf News. "I was very encouraged by the robustness of the debate around the executive board table but at the end of the day the issues of politics and sport should be kept separate.
"The Zimbabwe Cricket Board president Peter Chingoka helped broker the solution. It would have been extremely difficult if Chingoka was not in favour of the recommendation," he said. "I'm now confident that with the goodwill that has come through in the process of our deliberations, everybody will look at the big picture."
Zimbabwe Cricket will have to ratify the decision made by their delegation. An ICC sub-committee will oversee Zimbabwe's reintegration into mainstream cricket, and possibly the Future Tours Programme. The committee will be headed by Julian Hunte, the president of the West Indies Cricket Board, and will include Arjuna Ranatunga, the president of Sri Lanka Cricket, and an ICC official yet to be confirmed.