British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson says the England cricket team will be discouraged from playing Zimbabawe until its board severs ties with the Robert Mugabe regime.
Robertson said that cricket relationships between the two countries are not possible with Peter Chingoka as the president of Zimbabwe Cricket. Chingoka is a key aide of Mugabe.
"The problem is simple. Zimbabwe cricket is headed by a man who sits on the European Union banned list and he sits on that list for good reasons. As long as he is in charge of Zimbabwe Cricket it is extremely difficult for them to be fully integrated into the global cricketing community.
"Officially, government advice remains we discourage teams from playing. England will be discouraged from travelling over there and it is difficult for them to come here while their chairman remains on the banned list. It is very difficult to welcome a team here if the chairman cannot get a visa to enter this country," The Daily Telegraph quoted Robertson as saying.
This stance of the coalition government is very similar to that taken by former prime minister Gordon Brown during the last days of the Labour government.
Chingoka he is denied entry into Britain and this has forced the International Cricket Council (ICC) to move its annual general meeting in June to Singapore. The Zimbabwe team voluntarily pulled out of the 2009 World Twenty20 once it became clear they too would not be given British visas.
But in the last six months, there have been several changes in Zimbabwe Cricket. England coach Andy Flower has urged the MCC’s world cricket committee to send a fact-finding mission there and his brother Grant is now involved in the national set up.
Andy's predecessor as Zimbabwe captain Alistair Campbell was appointed chairman of selectors last October and stated the board’s aim to resume playing Test cricket within two years. Former England batsman and Surrey coach Alan Butcher is now Zimbabwe's coach.