Zimbabwe suspended from international cricket

FILE - In this Thursday, March 22, 2018 file photo, Zimbabwe players celebrate the wicket of UAE batsman Ashfaq Ahmed during their cricket world cup qualifier match at Harare Sports Club. Zimbabwe has been suspended from international cricket because of government interference. The International Cricket Council says on Thursday, July 18, 2019 it is also freezing all funding to the southern African country, which is a test-playing nation and full member of the ICC. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, file)

LONDON  Zimbabwe was suspended from international cricket on Thursday because of government interference.

The International Cricket Council said it was also freezing all funding to the southern African country, which is a test-playing nation and full member of the ICC.

The ban will be in place until at least October, when the ICC will meet again to reconsider Zimbabwe’s status.

Zimbabwe is due to play in World Twenty20 qualifiers in October but its participation is in doubt for that tournament.

Zimbabwe was suspended after the government-run sports and recreation commission removed the cricket board last month and installed temporary leadership. The commission acted after alleging corruption in Zimbabwe cricket but the ICC viewed it as government interference, which is against the world body’s rules.

The ICC announced its decision after its board met in London. Zimbabwe’s cricket officials must be reinstated within three months for the suspension to be lifted.

“We do not take the decision to suspend a member lightly, but we must keep our sport free from political interference,” ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said in a statement. “What has happened in Zimbabwe is a serious breach of the ICC constitution and we cannot allow it to continue unchecked.

“The ICC wants cricket to continue in Zimbabwe in accordance with the ICC constitution.”

Croatia and Zambia were also suspended while Morocco’s cricket body was expelled for continually failing to meet membership criteria relating to the way its finances are organized.

The ICC also introduced changes to its playing rules after a week of meetings at its annual conference.

Concussion replacements will be allowed in international cricket starting from the first Ashes test between England and Australia on Aug. 1. Player replacements must be “like-for-like,” the ICC said, and approved by the match referee.

Fines for slow over rates will now be spread among the offending team’s players and not just applied to the captain. Captains will no longer be suspended for serious or repeat over rate offences.

Teams guilty of slow over rates in a world test championship match will have two competition points deducted for every over they are behind the rate at the end of the match.