Cricket Ireland’s chief executive, Warren Deutrom denies that Irish team were under any pressure to tour Zimbabwe for one-day series and an Intercontinental Cup fixture in September. There were speculations on whether Scotland and Ireland would tour Zimbabwe which were ended when Ireland confirmed the tour, and Scotland opted out as advised by the Scottish government on visiting the nation.
Deutrom told the newspaper “The Irish Times”, “It is the sole decision of Cricket Ireland. Obviously, we needed to take the own views of ICC or what the fraternity of international cricket doing, with the recent tours of Sri Lanka and India are there. The movement for normalization, especially of cricket structures in Zimbabwe and the movements for political structures meant it was the one which was bound on dutu of investigating ourselves.”
Originally, Zimbabwe were playing the Intercontinental Cup on knowing that their domestic games would be played in neutral grounds. There had been chances that South Africa would host the matches of the team. The ICC on May related to CI Zimbabwe belief that the improvement in the cricketing and political structure showed that it was not acceptable to play matches anywhere except Zimbabwe.
Cricket Ireland got in touch with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), London and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Dublin to seek suggestions on the implications of making trip. They had all-clear but DFA kept on having no objections to the tour of Ireland on constant change in the stance of FCO led to the decision of Scotland to cancel the trip.
“The advice was something that we should not travel from security and safety standpoint in 2008. From the political point of view, playing cricket over there was not something that Ireland would have considered in this stage,” Deutrom added.
“But when ICC messaged us, there was definitely no diktat with them as it was just a common question on the status with governments and would you go back and inspect. The FCO and DFA informed us in June that they don’t have any problem for us to tour Zimbabwe.”
Team management, players, and officials in Ireland also met David Coltart, Zimbabwe sports minister, before their decision. A former human rights attorney, Coltart was one of the founders of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), opposition which is now with Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.
He added, “There were a lot of concerns on the meeting about security and safety on the ground based on the situation with hospitals and hotels. I raised all such concerns with minister and asked him to share his views. He also spoke about the situation and his own opinions on how he thinks Zimbabwe is much similar to the same in the early 90s in South Africa.”