By Eddie Chikamhi
Zimbabwe Cricket have indicated that they have back-up plans for a technical side to lead the national team during the T20 International triangular series involving the world’s top two ranked nations – Pakistan and Australia – in June if a replacement was not found in time to fill the void left by the sacking of Heath Streak and his entire backroom staff.
The association yesterday confirmed the T20I series which run from June 28 – July 8 and also the One Day International duel against Pakistan which will follow soon after.
But with just under two months before the tour, the Chevrons stand at the crossroads following the sacking of Streak and his lieutenants.
Streak was shown the exit two weeks ago after Zimbabwe failed to qualify for the ICC World Cup.
ZC head of cricket affairs, Givemore Makoni, said the search for the replacements was already in progress and confirmed plans were in place for an interim technical crew to lead the side for the two assignments if a new coach had not been appointed by June.
“I think the advert for the national team technical staff has already been flighted out. If not, maybe in a day or two. The (sacked) guys are free to apply for the jobs but in terms of our domestic structures we have everything in place,” said Makoni.
“We have got provincial coaches, we have technical staff for each province, and that will not stop us from playing.
“I’m sure in the event that there is late announcement, there are structures in place to make sure that we have stand-by team that can be responsible for the side for the upcoming tours.”
Streak’s contract was formally terminated on Monday to put to bed a row that had erupted last week when the coach claimed proper channels were not followed.
However, ZC managing director Faisal Hasnain, served him with his letter of dismissal.
“In terms of clause 5.6 of your employment contract dated 25th November 2016 as read with section 12 (4a) and 12 (4) of the Labour Act (Chapter 28.01), Zimbabwe Cricket hereby gives you three calendar months’ notice of termination of your employment.
“Three months’ notice of termination of your employment contract shall run from 1st May 2018 to July 2018. Notwithstanding the date of termination, you are hereby directed not to report for duty with immediate effect (that is from the date following the date of the receipt of this letter),” read part of the letter.
Zimbabwe will host Pakistan and Australia in Harare and Bulawayo for a total of seven T20I games. The Chevrons will get the series underway on July 1 against Pakistan with Australia and Pakistan playing each other the following day.
Each team will play four matches in a round-robin format, with the top two sides meeting in the final pencilled in for Sunday, July 8.
Thereafter, Pakistan will remain for five ODI matches against the Chevrons from July 13-22.
Hasnain said they were excited to have two of the leading nations in Zimbabwe. Pakistan are currently on top of the ICC T20I rankings with Australia in second place.
Zimbabwe are a distant 12th and they stand to gain much ground if they win their games.
As part of their preparations, ZC were looking to arrange a tour to run in tandem with domestic cricket next month.
“Playing two of the game’s biggest teams will provide us with a very welcome litmus test as we forge ahead with our plans to develop a stronger Zimbabwe side capable of consistently competing and winning against the best,” said Hasnain.
Makoni also confirmed domestic cricket will resume this month with the Logan Cup while the Pro50 championship has been pencilled in to continue from May 17-June 2.
The domestic league was shelved last year to pave way for the renovation of facilities ahead of the ICC World Cup Qualifier which Zimbabwe hosted last month.
“We played the first round of the Logan Cup last year and we are only left with three games to complete the season. So the competition will start on April 19-22 for the first games.
“The second will be on May 2-4 with the last games scheduled for May 12-15 in Harare and Bulawayo.
“The three games will see us completing our season in terms of the premier first class competition. The limited overs Pro50 Championship competition starts from May 17-30. The Pro-50 Championship finals will bring down the curtain on this season on June 2.
“If you notice we have extended the season by a month the reason being that we were disrupted a bit by the World Cup qualifiers and obviously that will translate to provincial contracts being extended by a month,” said Makoni.
Exciting times are also in store for women’s cricket as three countries will tour from April 28-May 4 for a T20 competition. Tanzania, Namibia, Uganda and Zimbabwe have all confirmed participation.
There are also plans to get the academy running in May at home and then complete in England.
The academy is fronted by former Zimbabwe skipper and convenor Tatenda Taibu. Makoni said they have had to channel most of the resources to their fixture programme.
“There is lot of cricket that is coming up in terms of international and domestic schedules and the beauty about it is that it’s covering both men and women.
“I think our financial situation is well documented. Just like any company in Zimbabwe we are struggling but cricket is our core business so we have to prioritize guys playing and building for the future.
“The academy is the future, it’s the institute of cricket learning. It does not make sense for you to be a Test playing nation and do not have an academy. Since cricket is our core business we have to focus and make sure that we invest important resources to ensure that we produce results and we remain competitive,” said Makoni.