ICC throws Zim Cricket lifeline

HARARE - The International Cricket Council gave Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) another chance to put their house in order subsequently saving the country from imminent suspension despite pressure from other member countries to act.

Getting kicked out by the ICC would have spelt doom for the local game that is struggling to find its feet in the echelons of international cricket both administratively and on the field owing to a long-documented mismanagement of financial resources that has seen players and staff often going for long periods without salaries.

ICC chief executive, David Richardson, who was on a two-day visit recently expressed hope and optimism that with a bit of hand-holding, the game will get back to its lost glory in a few years’ time.

Richardson said the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier tournament held in Zimbabwe in March was a blessing for the local game as it reminded the rest of the world of the rich cricketing culture found here.

The ICC officials had marathon meetings with the ZC leadership led by chairperson Tavengwa Mukuhlani, who was recently sworn in as member of the National Assembly after winning the Mhondoro-Ngezi seat.

“You would have seen during the qualifier tournament the rich cricket culture that exists in Zimbabwe and I think ICC recognises that,” Richardson said.
“Zimbabwe is one of our full members and it took a lot of work to get to that status and over the past years Zimbabwe has got itself in a difficult position financially.

“Its performances on the field have not been up to the standards that Zimbabweans would like and it brings to a stage where things were getting critical, the liabilities to the banks and to the various creditors were a crippling factor.

“But having recognised the culture that does exists, the potential that does exist for cricket in Zimbabwe; ICC felt that it needs to work with Zimbabwe to give it every chance of working its way out of their current predicament and to that extent at the last board meeting the board approved based on projected revenues that ICC might receive, they approved a certain distribution to ZC over the cycle that we run which goes until 2023.”

Richardson added: “But that distribution was subject to us sitting down with Zimbabwe and working out a business plan, an action plan which will enable Zimbabwe to actually operate in a sustainable way and a realistic way to work themselves out of this current situation to a position where they are self-sustainable and can be a valuable full member going forward.

“So these meetings were extremely valuable, I think we made a lot of progress in putting together this plan on a collaborative basis which we will present to our board in October.

“And hopefully they will see that ZC can be viable, there’s a lot of hard work that needs to take place.”

In order for ZC to receive this ICC bailout, there are a number of austerity measures that need to be taken.

“There are a number of hard decisions that need to be made both on the financial side which includes the staffing side of things; the bottom line is you can only spend as much money as you get,” Richardson said.

“At the moment, the revenues that ZC generates are almost exclusively reliant on ICC revenues so not only do we have to make sure we are cutting costs and cutting our coat according to our cloth, we also need to look at ways of generating new revenues for the game and this will come with increased confidence in ZC.”

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