Associates may gain as Zimbabwe pulls out
The ICC have announced that Zimbabwe have agreed to withdraw from next year's World Twenty20 Cup in England, thus averting a potential crisis if the British government had, as expected, refused to grant visas to the Zimbabwean party.
The issue has been hanging over this week's annual ICC conference, held in Dubai because, in the light of recent political developments in Zimbabwe, it had been likely that the delegation from that country's governing body would have been unable to attend a meeting at Lord's.
It is clear that fevered negotiations have been taking place in the background, with some Full members, notably England and South Africa, pressing for Zimbabwe to be stripped of its Full membership, but with India and the BCCI's allies resisting such a move.
The compromise deal leaves Zimbabwe Cricket as a Full member, though not currently playing Test cricket, and with their ample funding from the ICC intact. Their appearance fee for the Twenty20 Cup will also still be paid, despite their withdrawal.
Zimbabwe's non-participation in next year's tournament has potentially significant implications for the World Twenty20 qualifier, scheduled for 2-4 August in Belfast.
The six-team tournament has been designed to produce two qualifiers, with two groups of three and a final for the group winners. No play-off for third place has been programmed, since until now who finished third was irrelevant.
In the event that a third qualifier will now be included, some radical rejigging of the programme will be required.
It will be interesting to see whether a Plan B has been part of this week's discussions in Dubai.