Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
LOCAL cricket heaved a huge sigh of relief yesterday after the International Cricket Council (ICC) reinstated Zimbabwe as a full member of the global cricket family, ending its three-month banishment.
The ICC said Zimbabwe had complied with all conditions for reinstatement, which included the reversal of the decision by the Sports Commission to suspend the ZC board.
ICC chairman Shashank Manohar was particularly impressed by the commitment by Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry.
She led a delegation that also included ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani, and SRC chairman Gerald Mlotshwa.
“I would like to thank the Zimbabwe Sports Minister for her commitment to the reinstatement of Zimbabwe Cricket,’’ Manohar said.
“Her desire to work in support of Zimbabwe Cricket was clear and she has unconditionally complied with the conditions set down by the ICC Board.
“Funding to Zimbabwe Cricket will continue to be on a controlled basis as part of a collective effort behind getting the game in Zimbabwe back on an even keel.’’
Zimbabwe was suspended in July following boardroom bickering which resulted in the suspension of the ZC board by the Sports Commission on the back of a number of allegations.
The ICC ruled that the SRC were in breach of their statutes regarding “government interference” and voted unanimously to suspend Zimbabwe until the decision was reversed.
Zimbabwe national teams, players and officials were barred from taking part in all ICC sanctioned events.
Funding was also stopped.
Players, officials and staff have not received salaries since June while both men and women senior national teams were kicked out of the 2020 T20 World Cup qualifiers.
However, ZC and Sports Commission have since found each other with the help of Coventry.
The SRC lifted the suspension of the ZC Board and its acting managing director Givemore Makoni on 8 August 2019.
While the decision has come a little late for the Chevrons and Lady Chevrons, who were kicked out of next year’s T20 World Cup qualifiers, Zimbabwe will now be able to take up their place in the ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup in January.
The Chevrons will also take part in the ICC Super League in 2020.
“So glad to see this and, above all, relieved that this tough phase is behind us,’’ posted Chevrons all-rounder Sikandar Raza.
‘’Can’t wait to start playing cricket again. Looking forward to domestic cricket with @tuskerscricketZ. ALHAM DU LILLAH (Thank GOD).’’
Former captain, Brendan Taylor, said the decision was a huge relief to the nation.
“Thank you @ICC. There (are) a lot a relieved people in Zimbabwe. Thank you to @ZimCricketv Chairman the @ZimbabweSrc Chairman and the Honourable Sports Minister @KirstyCoventry for their combined efforts throughout this process,” posted Taylor.
The Alistair Campbell High Performance Centre also hailed the decision as “brilliant news.”
The Lady Chevrons team manager, Samu Nkiwane, was elated by the move which will see the women getting back into the international trenches.
“Obviously, we are very happy with this decision because this is what we have been making all the noise for.
‘’We wanted a positive outcome so that we continue playing cricket as Zimbabwe.
“Unfortunately, for us the women, we missed out a lot on the cancelled Ireland tour, the Netherlands tour and the T20 World Cup Qualifiers.
“We hope to come back strongly because we haven’t stopped playing despite the setbacks. Now that the suspension has been lifted, we can plan for the future with renewed hope,” said Nkiwane.
ZC chairman Mukuhlani also extended his organisation’s appreciation to Coventry and the SRC for their efforts in ensuring actions regarding the administration of cricket were made in the best interests of the game.
“We are elated to get our membership restored and this marks the beginning of a new, exciting chapter for our cricket, with ZC’s focus now fully back on ensuring our game is thriving, sustainable and financially stable.
“This would not have been possible without the steadfast support of the ICC and our colleagues from other member boards and we are very grateful to them,” Mukuhlani said.
Lessons must have been been learnt from this sad episode.
The Lady Chevrons’ were forced to cancel tours of Ireland and Netherlands after the suspension.
They were also barred from competing in the World T20 qualifier which took place in August and September and replaced by Namibia.
A group of four players and their coach Adam Chifo were denied the opportunity of joining the ICC Women’s Global Development Squad in England.
The men’s side also forfeited their place at the World T20 qualifying event which starts this Friday in the United Arab Emirates.
Nigeria have since taken their place.
They have also lost out on the opportunity for international cricket after their home series against West Indies that had been scheduled for this month was called off.
Zimbabwe were also scheduled to tour India early next year but the hosts have since replaced them with Sri Lanka.
The ICC are also set to resume funding for Zimbabwe after having withheld the funds until normalcy returned.
Zimbabwe are due US$94 million over an eight-year period.
Nepal have also been reinstated on a conditional basis following their 2016 suspension for breach of the ICC regulations which prohibit government interference and require free and fair elections.
Election of a 17-member Central Working Committee for the Cricket Association of Nepal were completed earlier this month and paved the way for the re-admittance of the CAN.
“Given the progress made in Nepal, a transition plan will now be developed for the Cricket Association of Nepal to support full compliance with Associate Membership criteria, which will also involve controlled funding,” said the ICC chairman.