New Zealand Cricket and Zimbabwe Cricket have agreed to postpone New Zealand's tour of Zimbabwe, which was due to take place this July, by a year.
The decision came after discussions between ZC chief executive Ozias Bvute and his counterpart at NZC, Justin Vaughan, during the ICC chief executives' conference in Johannesburg. New Zealand will now tour in June 2010.
"This is a pragmatic solution that allows the situation in Zimbabwe to be monitored over the next year," said Vaughan. "Given that Zimbabwe remains a full member of ICC we have continuing obligations to play them on a reciprocal basis. Therefore, this agreement is an acceptable outcome for the present time."
The announcement follows more than a week of speculation that the New Zealand prime minister, John Key, was preparing to step in to prevent the tour going ahead. "I'm pretty reluctant for the Black Caps to travel," he said at the weekend. "There are very real, genuine security risks for our players."
Asked if he was willing to go further than his predecessor and actually ban the players from going, he intimated that he was. "There are some options that I am working through at the moment. We don't support that regime. We don't support what is happening in that country, and we don't want to give a signal that we do."
That statement left NZC up in the air waiting for the next move. If the board had unilaterally decided not to make the trip then it would have been open to substantial financial penalties under ICC regulations.
By postponing, a common-sense solution has been found. The main stumbling block as far as the New Zealand government are concerned is the continuing rule of Robert Mugabe, although given the deteriorating political, economic and social situation in Zimbabwe, that particular problem could have been removed when the debate is next aired.