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Zimbabwe cricket’s suspension and the events leading up to it

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After ICC’s board and full council meeting, it was decided that the suspension would be handed to Zimbabwe cricket for the breach of Article 2.4 (c) and (d) of the ICC Constitution which requires all it’s members to undergo free and democratic process for elections for both the governance and administration of cricket in that member country.

However, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has been in turmoil for a while and after the re-election of Tavengwa Mukuhlani as the chairman of the board, things went from bad to worse. Mukuhlani ‘s re-election was in direct conflict with the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) which governs and oversees all sporting bodies in Zimbabwe. Thus, SRC suspended ZC last month which constituted to government interference which is a breach of Article 2.4 (c) and (d) of the ICC Constitution. Thus, it was one of the reasons for the steps that the ICC took.

However, to be fair, Zimbabwe cricket on the field and off it has been in massive turmoil. While the performances on the field have been nothing short of ordinary, the events off it have affected it just as much as well.

The financial state of Zimbabwe seemed at an all-time low and there were in absolute disarray in almost every sector. But in 2017 it was Faisal Hasnain who tried resurrecting things. The ICC World Cup Qualifiers which were held in March 2018 were supposed to be awarded to Ireland. However, Hasnain who joined Zimbabwe Cricket as the managing director in April 2017 convinced everyone through an emotional speech that it was Zimbabwe who needed a boost and it is the right venue and the right time for the Qualifiers to be held in the African nation.

However, there were complaints that were sent out to the ICC to give the grounds and the board just five months to prepare for the event. However, that was not even a big concern. Just a month ahead of the all-important Qualifiers, players were first told that they would not receive their salaries for the month of February. Head coach Heath Streak persuaded the board not to do that and pay them regularly to avoid distraction ahead of the Qualifiers. But the board didn’t really pay much heed to Streak’s advice. The franchise players remained unpaid.

Zimbabwe fared well in the Qualifiers but a couple of heartbreaking losses towards the end of the tournament drew a line for them. They failed to qualify for the 10-team ICC World Cup which was held in England this year. The future seemed uncertain. The crowds were electric throughout the tournament and support for Zimbabwe was like never before.

It gave a story to the world that, in the midst of all the problems, there is a cricket culture in Zimbabwe and there is a fan base in Zimbabwe. We can achieve something cricket-wise in Zimbabwe,” Mukuhlani, the chairman of ZC was quoted saying by Cricbuzz last year.

Despite the success of the tournament, ICC issued a list of conditions in order for them to provide ZC with assistance. ZC had to convince Zimbabwe Asset Management Company (ZAMCO) which is an organisation established to deal with non-performing loans in the banking sectors in the country.

They managed to win their vote to just about stay afloat in adhering to ICC’s terms and the list of conditions. Thus, ICC appointed an administrator to oversee all the affairs in Zimbabwe Cricket from then on. Under that administrator’s guidance, ZC committed to pay off ZAMCO’s debts by 2020. The debt was cut to USD 10 million. The next landmark was to pay off ICC’s 3 million (USD) debt and remain debt-free for ICC’s next financial cycle to begin in 2023.

It was also supposed to settle all the previous financial concerns and debts. That was to pay off all the pending requests and obligations. But that was far from what happened.

Post the World Cup Qualifiers, Zimbabwe have won a mere six international games, four of which came in ODIs against UAE. In fact, they were also losing to County teams who were dishing out second XIs to play against Zimbabwe. Such was the state of cricket in Zimbabwe. In fact, with players not being paid and the rift widening between players and the board, senior players were dropped from the team. All kinds of coaches (head, batting and bowling), captains, selectors, were shuffled around left, right and centre.

All this was connected to cricket. The turmoil financially in ZC was at another level. Thus, they were far from breathing easy. Tatenda Taibu had told and warned the board that the cricket in Zimbabwe was in shambles but there was hardly any attention paid to it.

The financial crisis in Zimbabwe is real. The conflict between SRC and ZC has taken the situation to another level and all it has resulted in is ZC’s suspension and they are the only ones suffering and bearing the brunt of it.

A number of quality options go begging now. Brendan Taylor, Sikander Raza, Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura, Kyle Jarvis and Craig Ervine are all stars of Zimbabwe cricket. However, they are all in their 30s and their future is uncertain. Not only these, but there were also quite a few others who suffered similar fates and quit cricket before it got out of hand. We may have well seen the last of these players, maybe in international cricket or maybe professional cricket, you never know. They have all been consumed by the financial crisis. Not only that but also ZC’s improper administration and their rifts with various government bodies.

Thus, while we may never these stars again, there are a few youngsters who have done well recently and their careers might be cut short as well. They may well have to go overseas and take the Kolpak way out. Hence, Zimbabwe cricket is in shambles, both on and off the field and has nowhere to hide.

They have become the first-ever full member team to be suspended by the ICC. All the funds that were flowing out to the Zimbabwe cricket will be stopped, Zimbabwean teams, be it men or women, will not be able to take part in any ICC events during their suspension period. It means that the participation of both the men’s and women’s teams for the ICC World T20 Qualifiers is in jeopardy and looks highly unlikely.




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