Zimbabwe Cricket's announcement last Wednesday that they were withdrawing from Test cricket for the rest of 2006 was greeted variously with sighs of relief, pats on the back, and gales of laughter. I belonged to that last category.
Consider this: Zimbabwe has withdrawn from Test cricket. They are still playing one-day cricket. They are still free to host ODI series against touring sides. They still have a team in next month's Under-19 World Cup. Peter Chingoka is still chairman of the board, albeit an "Interim" one. Ovias Bvute is still managing director for Zimbabwe Cricket. Robert Mugabe is still president of the republic.
And Tatenda Taibu is still in Bangladesh.
There would have been sighs of relief from the West Indies Cricket Board, who won't need to host two inevitably loss-making Test matches against Zimbabwe, but will still have the ODI leg of the tour to cash in on. Brian Lara may not be so happy, as some golden opportunities to add to his world record run tally go begging.
Zimbabwe still has the possibility of playing in this October's ICC Champions Trophy, if they finish in the top two places of the four-team qualifying event. Nonetheless, they are, to quote Ehsan Mani, "not in a position to be competitive in Test cricket". Ah yes, the smell of compromise and the stench of money.
Not that the average Zimbabwean sports fan cares all that much about cricket. Tonight, Zimbabwe's footballers take on Senegal in their opening group match of the African Cup of Nations - after which they play Nigeria and Ghana. Who's scared of being flogged in international competition again?