One step forward, two steps back

HARARE – Confirmation that Sri Lanka will no longer tour Zimbabwe next month as originally scheduled will come as a great blow for a team hoping to build on the gains of their recent success.

Sri Lanka were scheduled to tour Zimbabwe for a full series of Tests, ODIs and Twenty20s, but ZC, overwhelmed with massive debts and strapped with employee disgruntlement, asked for a postponement of the series.

ZC’s financial woes are well-document, but there was some hope on the horizon that the team’s historic 24-run win over Pakistan last week to level the two-match Test series would  usher a modicum of peace and stability in the local game.

In this context, restoration of peace meant building on that success against Pakistan by availing more game time to the boys, for them to get some form of momentum under their belts.

Consistency has long been a problem of the Zimbabwe side, and another long break will surely take us back to the mediocrity of two months ago when a second-string Indian side came here and swept all before them.

As things stand, Zimbabwe’s next assignment is at the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next March, while their next Test series only comes around against South Africa in July.

That doesn’t augur well for the smooth progress of the team.

Sure, the domestic season roars into life in October and that aspect of the game is part and parcel of all Test-playing nations, but we are all conscious of the fact that our league has not been as strong as it should be in order to provide a perfect substitution for the lack of international cricket.

One of the reasons our domestic structures have weakened over the past three seasons is that the bulk of the second-string players have been driven out of the game due to paltry earnings and poor remuneration.

The onus now is on ZC, using the success against Pakistan, to aggressively approach their former sponsors to help fund both incoming and out-coming tours.

The domestic structure desperately needs to be reinforced again by luring back a lot of the talented young cricketers who have been disillusioned and traumatised after watching themselves sink more and more into poverty by a game supposed take them out of it.

The national side must play more often and regularly and the Zimbabwe ‘A’ side must be resuscitated and sent on overseas tours to widen the selection pool and prepare them for international cricket.

We have seen it before in Zimbabwe Cricket. For every attempt to make progress, a retrograde result is achieved. It’s time to put a stop.

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