Zimbabwe suspend Test matches

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Zimbabwe have withdrawn from Test cricket for the second time in 20 months. At their first meeting, Zimbabwe's interim cricket board resolved to suspend Test matches while "putting in place a programme to galvanise the development of the Zimbabwe squads".

The tour of the West Indies scheduled for April has now been reduced to a one-day series. "The interim board have decided to suspend Zimbabwe's participation in Test matches until early next year," the board chairman, Peter Chingoka, said after the meeting in Harare.

"The decision to suspend participation in Test matches was reached by Zimbabwe Cricket after consideration of the recent performances by the national and A teams," Chingoka said. "The young teams remain full of potential and hopes abound for their development into a strong and competitive performer in the Test arena. ZC are now putting in place a programme to galvanise the development of the Zimbabwe squads. They will work with other Test nations and the ICC itself to realise this objective."

Zimbabwe will now only resume their full programme during the tour to Sri Lanka in February 2007, subject to the finalisation of the ICC Future Tours Programme for which the chief executives are meeting in Dubai next month.

In June 2004, ZC offered to suspend their Test participation for a period of six months following the dismissal of a group of 15 contracted players, popularly known as the "rebels".

Zimbabwe's tours against Pakistan and England were then reduced to one-day series while Test matches resumed in January last year with the tour of Bangladesh.

* England may face India as often as Australia in future after agreeing in principle to play India home and away every four years. The England and Wales Cricket Board is willing to sign up to more regular meetings should the ICC's future tours programme be altered from a five-year to a six-year cycle. The ICC could make a decision next month.