NOT so long ago, Zimbabwean cricketers’ tour of Scotland next month would have been hijacked by political opportunists — desperate to use the sport for their evil agendas — and would have been making headlines in hostile British newspapers opposed to the country’s political leadership.
It would have been generating a lot of noise, both in the British media and among those, back home and in the Diaspora, who have been fighting a losing battle, for years now, to try and promote their regime change agenda and have jumped at every opportunity to drive their hopeless agenda.
Petitions would have been circulating saying that the Zimbabwean cricketers, who are set to play two ODIs against Scotland in Edinburgh on June 15 and June 17, should not be allowed to play on British soil because they are the sporting arm of a country these people despise.
Just seven years ago, the British government put so much pressure on Scotland Cricket to force that country’s cricketers from touring Zimbabwe saying that such a visit, to a country which the British politicians claimed was allegedly violating human rights, would be an endorsement on this country’s political leadership.
Such was the severity of the pressure that Scotland Cricket even suggested, as a way of saving those matches, that the games be played on neutral soil in South Africa, but Zimbabwe Cricket, then under the leadership of chairman Peter Chingoka and Ozias Bvute as the managing director, refused those overtures and the tour was cancelled.
Chingoka and Bvute argued that politics shouldn’t be allowed to mingle with sport and, at a time when the country had already found a way to build bridges with all other nations except Britain — with Australia sending their A team for a tour here — the then ZC leaders, to their credit, steadfastly refused to be abused to boost the interests of British politicians opposed to the political leadership in this country.
Seven years later, it appears a lot has changed and the barriers, which those politicians and their lieutenants here, who wanted to use cricket to fight their political battles against the leadership of this country, have lost the steam that used to inspire their madness.
For, now, Zimbabwe can go and play in Scotland without the kind of hysteria that such a tour would have generated in the past.
“Scotland will host Zimbabwe in two One Day Internationals at The Grange, Edinburgh this summer as part of an action-packed fortnight of international cricket on home soil,’’ Cricket Scotland announced.
“Following the Intercontinental Cup match with Namibia in Ayr (6th–9th June) and the two 50 over World Cricket League Championship clashes with the same opponents at The Grange on Sunday 11th and Tuesday 13th June Scotland will head straight in to the two match ODI series with Zimbabwe.
“The matches will take place at The Grange on Thursday 15th June and Saturday 17th June.
“Zimbabwe, now coached by former international fast bowler Heath Streak, travel to Edinburgh to take on Scotland for the first time since the sides met in India during the ICC World T20 in 2016 when Zimbabwe ran out winners by 11 runs.
“That meeting at the 2016 WT20 was, in fact, the only ever competitive international match between the two nations. The sides’ only ever 50 over match took place in 2007 when a Scotland XI played Zimbabwe in Potchefstroom, Ryan Watson captained the side and scored a half century as Zimbabwe recorded a 5-wicket win.”
And Cricket Scotland chief executive, Malcolm Cannon, revealed they were delighted to confirm the matches against Zimbabwe.
“Securing home international matches against a Full Member nation is something we have all worked tirelessly on over the past 18 months so I am delighted we have managed to make these matches a reality. The squad will relish the opportunity to put in some winning performances in front of a passionate home crowd,” he said.
Scotland coach Grant Bradburn said it was “brilliant’’ for his employers to secure a series against Zimbabwe.
“This is brilliant for Cricket Scotland to be able to host a home series against a full member nation. This will be the first Full Member ODI that I have been involved in outside of a World Cup. The players will be desperate to match their skills against Zimbabwe on home soil,” he said.
Maybe, as the walls of shame — which used to prevent international matches between Zimbabwean cricketers and their British counterparts in more than a decade leading to that infamous decision by English cricketers to decide against fulfilling a World Cup match here in February 2003 — begin to collapse, we can only hope to see a fixture between our Chevrons and their English counterparts.
The last Test match between the two sides was in England between May and July in 2003 and the English cricketers’ decision not to tour this country, under pressure from their politicians since then, has robbed Zimbabwe Cricket of a box-office tour that would have helped boost their financial coffers.
Sport should never be abused as a tool for politicians and, as they say, good will always find a way to triumph over evil because you can’t sustain a lie forever.