ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat has said he is encouraged following Zimbabwe's 'responsible' return to Test cricket, which has seen them take on Bangladesh in a one-off match in Harare.
Lorgat is in Harare to watch the game and show his support for Zimbabwe's return following six years of voluntary withdrawal from playing Tests.
The ICC has worked with Zimbabwe Cricket to help effect the return of Zimbabwe to the highest level and now they are keen for further work to develop the game in Zimbabwe further.
"To have Zimbabwe return to playing competitive Test cricket is a progressive step and I hope we will see good performances," Lorgat said.
"The future of Test cricket must be supported and I am encouraged by the positive signs of recovery we see in the game in Zimbabwe. It is incumbent on the entire cricket community to work together to promote Test cricket and that is why I wish to support this Test match.
"Much has been done to improve cricket in Zimbabwe, especially in the past two years. It has been fantastic to see some experienced and talented individuals becoming deeply involved, including former players such as Heath Streak, Grant Flower and Alistair Campbell along with Zimbabwe Cricket’s chairman Peter Chingoka and chief executive Ozias Bvute.
"As we know, in order to maintain a competitive Test team, there needs to be a robust first-class structure that develops players for international competition. Zimbabwe’s domestic system has been revamped and now needs to be nurtured and maintained.
"There is still a long way to go before Zimbabwe can compete consistently with the very best Test nations in the world, but this is a good start. They have been responsible by appreciating the need to be patient and gradual as they develop their team. I wish them well as they play this one-off test against Bangladesh and hope they develop to play a full Test series – home and away – against the top sides in the future.
"We want more competitive teams and so there is a need to focus on performance. That will, in turn, bring with it more fans, a rise in local interest and ultimately more players coming into the game. That is how we will continue to build a bigger, better global game.
"Test cricket will be protected and promoted above all other forms of the game. It is the link to the game’s origins, it’s what defines greatness and is recognised by the players as being the benchmark by which they will be graded and remembered.
"Currently, we are enjoying an enthralling series in England with India’s number-one position on the Reliance ICC Test Championship table on the line. It is all about meaningful, hard-fought and entertaining cricket and certainly we have seen that in England so far in this series.
"The new Test Championship, which is on the horizon, will provide even better context to the existing programme and that is certainly something to look forward to as our great sport continues to grow stronger."
© Cricket World 2011