Scotland will not travel to Zimbabwe to fulfil their ICC Intercontinental Cup fixture against Zimbabwe XI after being advised not to travel by the Scottish and UK government.
The match was originally scheduled to be played at a neutral venue in Africa before it was switched to Zimbabwe, although recent government advice has left them with little choice but to pull out of the clash.
A recent statement from the UK government read as follows:
"The Government is firmly of the view that there has not yet been sufficient progress in Zimbabwe on the fundamental issues of political reform and of re-establishing the rule of law to justify sports tours by British teams and the positive signal that would send. We therefore strongly advise against such visits. We recognise that the final decision is for the relevant Cricket Boards, but hope they will consider their decisions carefully in the light of our unequivocal advice."
Furthermore, a recent statement from the government, in support of the Foreign & Commonwealth office added:
"We strongly advise Scottish sports teams against visiting Zimbabwe."
Following discussions at Cricket Scotland board level, and with the ICC, the board issued the following statement explaining their decision:
"It is clear to Cricket Scotland that the governing body has been placed in a very difficult situation, with potentially no solution that would appease all parties. In coming to a final decision, all these factors have been taken into consideration.
"It is clear that, if the match had gone ahead as scheduled in a neutral African venue, this situation would not have arisen. In subsequently agreeing, in good faith, to play the game in Zimbabwe, we did so with the blessing of the (then) Governments in Holyrood and Westminster, and after receiving security advice.
"The subsequent change in UK Government policy is unequivocal and is advising, in the strongest terms, against the Scotland cricket team playing in Zimbabwe. Cricket Scotland accepts, and is proud of, our role within the global cricket family and are delighted that cricket in Zimbabwe has made significant strides forward in recent times. Cricket Scotland’s Board could not ignore direct and unequivocal Government advice. We have therefore informed the ICC that, with regret, the Scotland side will not travel to Zimbabwe."
Commenting on the decision, Roddy Smith, Cricket Scotland’s Chief Executive, stated: "It is hugely unfortunate that Cricket Scotland has been put in an impossible no-win situation in regard to the potential tour to Zimbabwe. Our Board has taken cognisance of all the advice and recommendations from Government and the ICC, and can only take what we believe is the correct course of action.
"Both the UK and Scottish Governments were clear in their advice to us. Although accepting that this decision will not be welcomed by some key partners, we felt that as a responsible governing body we could not, and would not, contravene the direct and unequivocal advice from Government. We hope that the Scotland team can look forward to playing in Zimbabwe again in the future if and when Government policy allows."
The match was due to be a vital one with Zimbabwe placed in third place in the standings just six points behind Scotland in second place.
Ireland are also due to tour Zimbabwe later this year as they complete their programme ahead of the final in Dubai which begins on 25th November.
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