Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Cricket chairman, Tavengwa Mukuhlani, says an extension of sanctions from the International Cricket Council could have led to the collapse of the country’s second biggest sporting discipline.
However, following the lifting of the suspension, Mukuhlani says domestic cricket was now set to open a new chapter for the game where it won’t be business as usual.
The process of healing has now begun at ZC with players and staff, who had gone for almost five months without receiving salaries and match fees, now set to get their dues.
The association is opening a new leaf following the lifting of their suspension by the ICC this week.
Mukuhlani yesterday told a media conference normal business has resumed at the association after a difficult three months.
The game was on the brink of collapse, in the wake of their suspension by ICC on July 18, which led to the freezing of funds and the banishment of representative teams and officials from participating in all ICC-sanctioned events.
“Any further sanctions would have signalled the death of cricket in our country and – at the risk of sounding too emotional – I do not make this statement lightly,’’ Mukuhlani said.
“But, as I address you, I do so with delight. Indeed, I am elated that the ICC has reinstated us, with all our rights as a Full member of the ICC.’’
Zimbabwe’s men and women’s teams missed the 2020 ICC T20 World Cup qualifiers. But the Under-19 team will take part in the ICC Under-19 World Cup beginning in January in South Africa.
“Obviously, the greatest desire for any athlete is to be at the world stage. That’s why they turn up every day to practice,’’ said Mukuhlani.
‘‘It’s because they want to be at the world stage.
“You could physically touch the emotions in the ladies’ team. They prepared, they did everything right, they won the Africa competition and they were looking forward to go to Scotland.
“This would have been our best year ever. I am sure the women were going to qualify and we were going to qualify in the men’s event as well.
“Unfortunately, we are where we are today. So, yes, it’s a great disappointment and if we put it into context for the men’s team, a lot of those guys are between the age of 32 to 34 and in 2023 they will be 36-38.
‘‘Some of them may never make it to the World Cup. So there is a great deal of disappointment.’’
The Chevrons are expected back in international cricket as early as January next year when they host Sri Lanka as part of the Future Tours Programme.
Negotiations are taking place with India to reschedule the tour that was cancelled following Zimbabwe’s suspension.
Domestic cricket, which had also been affected by the recent events, is also back on the radar. “I think the major lesson out of this is that there should be a better way of conflict resolution,’’ Mukuhlani said.
‘‘There must be clarity as to what is interference and what is intervention and there is need to appreciate everyone’s role in the food chain.
‘‘The Government has a big role to play, for instance, if we are to host a tournament we need government guarantees.
“Those may not be necessarily financial in our case. But we don’t run the security for the country, the Government does. We don’t run the immigration, the Government does.’’
He said his association were seized with mending the cracks that had developed in the Chevrons dressing room during the impasse.
“We are well aware of the cracks that did emerge during this impasse in the changing room and we are working hard to make sure that it doesn’t get deeper,’’ said Mukuhlani.
“I am happy that during, and after this impasse, I have been in touch with the senior players and having them to understand where we are coming from and where we are going.
“Part of that process is that as we go forward it’s important that players are well-informed of the goings on within ZC so that they don’t get to hear issues from third parties because they may be misrepresented and may decide to take the wrong side.
“We can only do so much as an organisation but the greater part of it now lies with individuals to understand why they are at ZC and observe their contractual obligations.’’