Harare: Zimbabwe`s Sports Minister David Coltart has applauded the cricket boards of Ireland and New Zealand for agreeing to send teams to the country.
Ireland will play three ODIs against the full Zimbabwe team in addition to an Intercontinental Cup match against the hosts` second-string XI starting on September 20.
New Zealand is also set to resume ties with Zimbabwe after naming an A side to tour the unstable Southern African nation in October.
The last time the countries faced each other on the cricket field was in 2005.
"I`m pleased," Coltart told reporters. "Of course it`s subject to (New Zealand`s) security team giving us a positive report. I`m meeting their security team tonight. I traveled to New Zealand to meet their Sports
Minister and the other leadership there and their response was positive.”
"People read about lands invasions and they are worried about coming (to Zimbabwe). They read about racist comments coming from our erstwhile politicians. They fear that people here are generally antagonistic against white people ... The vast majority of Zimbabweans are not racist. It`s a warm and peaceful country. That`s what the security team will find out."
Coltart said that he had traveled to Ireland to persuade team officials to give the tour the green light.
"I`m also pleased that they are coming," he said. "It`s a good thing for the Zimbabwe team to play a team of their caliber as we prepare for reinstatement to Test cricket.”
"It`s also a good stepping stone as we seek to rebrand Zimbabwe. Both Ireland and New Zealand are potential tourism markets. I hope they will see that Zimbabwe is a country worth investing with."
But while the Ireland and New Zealand boards have agreed to give Zimbabwe a chance, Scotland recently pulled out of a tour there on the advice of the British government.
"I`m disappointed by that," Coltart said. "I`m sympathetic to the Scotland team. Knowing what we spoke about when I met them, I had no doubt that they wanted to come."
Coltart said the Zimbabwe Cricket administration and the government had made positive steps in recent months.
"No one claims that Zimbabwe is perfect," he said. "But we need to reward institutions that try to do things right. And that`s my view on Zimbabwe Cricket. ZC has done everything I asked them to do in the last eight months and that must be recognized."