Zimbabwe have just completed their first full home season in six years, playing one-off Tests against Bangladesh, Pakistan and New Zealand.

Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture David Coltart has been widely praised for turning cricket around in Zimbabwe since his appointment in February 2009.

Tristan Holme caught up with him to discuss Zimbabwe's Test return, the reaction in the New Zealand press and England's reluctance to resume ties.

When you look back at the past few months, are you fairly pleased with how things have gone, and do you feel Zimbabwe have justified their return to Test cricket?
I think that when we withdrew from Test cricket we were losing within three days, and I think there was even a match against South Africa where we lost within two days, and that makes a mockery of Test cricket. We've taken every Test match (this season) into the last day, and that in essence is what Test cricket is about - the ability to play the entire match. So I think that these three matches demonstrate that our return to Test cricket is entirely justified. There's one caveat, and that is that we haven't played away yet, and that's going to be the next test of whether it's justified or not.

You must feel that bringing cricket to Zimbabwe has a lot of benefit to the people, but have you felt a growing support for the team over the course of the three series?
Well to be frank I'm disappointed by the turnout at a lot of matches, not just the Tests. I still feel we've got a lot to do to get the public out here. I feel as Minister of Education, as opposed to Minister of Sport, that we've got a lot to do to get schoolchildren along to these matches.

But in answer to your question, I think that confidence in Zimbabwe cricket is being restored. I think there's a growing understanding amongst the cricketing public that this is an increasingly competitive team, and I think that that will result, in the longer term, in more public support at matches.

There weren't any New Zealand journalists who came out for the tour, but quite a few of them back home were quite critical of New Zealand's decision to tour, terming it a "disgrace". How would you respond to that?
Well I've already responded to those articles published by the web newspapers, and in both articles I've read I believe they've been written by people who are ignorant to the current situation in Zimbabwe, and they're articles that are pretty much three years out of date. None of us argue that the situation in Zimbabwe is perfect - far from that, there are still appalling things taking place in this country but it's unrecognisably better than it was three years ago politically and our cricket has made huge strides - not just in the playing field but also in terms of accountability and inclusivity in the last three years, and that needs to be rewarded.

I've said many times that I think Zimbabwe is at a very similar junction in its history to where South Africa was in the early 1990s. It's a country in transition, it's a fragile transition. There are setbacks, and there are still events taking place in the political arena that are very negative. But overall the country has chosen a non-violent route, and that should be encouraged. So far from it being a disgrace, I'm delighted that New Zealand has made this tour.

And I would say one thing in closing to these journalists, which is that they're sitting in New Zealand; they're not Zimbabweans, they're not here, they're not in a position to judge. Here you have a person like myself who has been a human rights lawyer for 30 years, who supported someone like the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who has sacrificed greatly for this, and if we say that it's alright for this tour to come, how can any New Zealand journalist possibly claim to have any moral authority to dispute that? It's a bit like telling Nelson Mandela in the early 1990s, that South Africa should not have the 1995 World Cup. It's ridiculous.

The one country that remains resistant to resuming tours is England. You must find that frustrating?
I find it very frustrating. I've been in London and I met with Minister Henry Bellingham, who is the UK's Foreign Office Minister for Africa, and I raised this issue again with him. I find it entirely contradictory - I've had a letter from the British Ambassador confirming that our Olympic team is going to be welcome in London next year. We know that, for example, this year our Polocrosse team got to the final of the world championships in Britain, we've had the British Barbarian schoolboy rugby team out here, and there's just an inconsistency. Why is it that cricket is singled out for this treatment? It does not appear to be a general policy of the British government, and I just think it's wrong and needs to be reviewed.

The main concern with cricket in Zimbabwe has to be finance. Do you see it being sustainable in the long run?
I think that cricket is sustainable in the long run, but there's no doubt that there are huge pressures that are present because in most countries the bulk of sponsorship comes from domestic companies, not international receipts, and our economy is still in a bad shape although it's gradually stabilising and picking up. I am concerned in the short term, because the long term success of cricket is inextricably linked to the growth of Zimbabwe's economy, which is going to take some time yet.

So I just hope that the cricket authorities can manage this transition and keep cricket alive and keep these tours coming on the understanding that when the economy stabilises, cricket inevitably is going to get more support. And with that support and growing strength in Zimbabwe cricket we will get more of the English and Indian tours that bring the huge amounts of money that we need to sustain cricket.