HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe Sports Minister David Coltart has once again urged England to revive cricket ties with the southern African nation.
Coltart’s lobbying efforts have managed to sway Australia and New Zealand to tour the country following years of boycotts on political grounds, but the British government prohibits England to host or visit Zimbabwe.
England last hosted and visited Zimbabwe in 2004 but played its team in 2007 at the Twenty20 World tournament.
Earlier this month, Coltart met with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London during the World Education Forum and the pair briefly discussed re-establishing cricket ties.
“It went well. I proposed dialogue between the two countries and he said they will consider it,” Coltart told The Associated Press. “He said they have taken into account what I said. He didn’t give any undertaking but he wasn’t negative.”
Coltart is a founding member of the Movement for Democratic Change party that forced Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party into a coalition government after the disputed 2008 elections.
He has previously defended his lobbying efforts, saying the coalition government has addressed some of the concerns that brought the imposition of the sporting sanctions.
“Tours of that stature bind relations and reconcile nations,” Coltart said. “Tours do not benefit a single part. They benefit the entire nation. They also help our cricket. A good example is that the tour by Australia ‘A’ and New Zealand last year lifted morale and helped raise the standard of our game.
“The trouble with England is that in the foreseeable future on the ICC calendar, England are scheduled to play Zimbabwe in some ridiculous time. There doesn’t seem to be a scheduled timeframe by the ICC. New Zealand and Australia offer a unique opportunity because of the fact that other than other southern hemisphere countries, we can play our cricket during our winter.”