England are planning to host Zimbabwe for the first time since 2004 in a move that is expected to resume and strengthen cricketing ties between the two countries. As per several reports, the move might see England host Zimbabwe for a Test at Lord’s in the coming years.
Zimbabwe last took part in a bilateral series with England in 2004, and England haven’t hosted Zimbabwe since 2003.
Since England withdrew from their ODI World Cup match in 2003 against Zimbabwe for reasons related to the political climate in the African country, the cricketing relations between the two boards have soured. Following that, the UK Government instructed England to forego playing Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, England are the only side out of the 12 full members of the International Cricket Council to not play Zimbabwe in any bilateral cricket matches during the 2022–2027 future tours programme.
The span that has passed since England and Zimbabwe last played a bilateral match is easily the longest of any two full members; with even the two arch-rivals India and Pakistan having last contested in a series against one another in 2013.
England haven’t hosted Bangladesh in any format since 2010 either though the Three Lions played against the Bangla Tigers earlier this year in Bangladesh in three ODIs and as many T20Is.
The England & Wales Cricket Board, however, has been looking at the prospect of inviting Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in order to help encourage Test cricket around the world while maintaining the format competitive.
With the exception of the pandemic in 2020, Lord’s has continued hosting two Test matches annually because of a staging agreement since 2000. The match that took place against Ireland recently generated strong ticket sales, indicating the enthusiasm for Test cricket at Lord’s.
Guy Lavender, the chief executive of Marylebone Cricket Club, spoke to Telegraph Sport and mentioned that Lord’s intended to keep hosting two Test matches every year going ahead.
“We are very much looking forward to staging two Test matches at Lord’s in 2024. Moving forward, we think there is significant merit in staging two Test matches at Lord’s each summer, both in making best use of this incredible venue, as well as generating strong financial returns to support the growth of the game.” he told to Telegraph Sport.