ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC)â€™s pullout from next yearâ€™s World Twenty20 tourney in England has been met with strong disproval, with many inside Zimbabwe cricket saying the move was far from being a cricketing decision.
Both ZC and the International Cricket Council (ICC) have come under fire for the compromise deal.
The decision was made at the ICC executive meeting in Dubai last week by three ZC directors, chairman Peter Chingoka, his deputy Tavengwa Mukuhlani and legal expert Wilson Manase.
ZC later said in a statement: “The Zimbabwe Cricket delegation to the International Cricket Council (ICC) Annual Conference has decided to recommend to its board that its team withdraws from the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in England next year.
“In arriving at the recommendation, the ZC delegation was influenced by the need to look at the bigger picture in the interest of Zimbabwean cricket and cricket in general. The delegation was also aware of the British government decision not to allow its bilateral series in England in 2009 to go ahead, and the possibility of that government refusing to grant visas for the Zimbabwe cricket team to take part in the World Twenty20 tournament.”
The England Cricket Board, alongside Cricket South Africa, two weeks ago cut bilateral ties with Zimbabwe Cricket in response to the worsening political situation in the country. But the World Twenty20 event was a standalone as it strictly fall under ICC jurisdiction, and England would have been sanctioned if Zimbabwe were not allowed to participate. They faced the possibility of losing the tournament to another country, and all the commercial gains that come with such a prestigious event.
But a face-saving decision by the Zimbabwe board elite, with support from influencial forces such as the Board of Control for Cricket in India, saw Zimbabwe pulling out but standing to cash in on the proceeds from the tournament.
Richie Kaschula, a former Zimbabwe player, selector and administrator, said the decision set a dangerous precedence for the game.
“How can we pull out when our players have right to participate?” he asked. “Once again our players have suffered because of the administration. They have suffered because ICC has failed to deal with Zimbabwe Cricket and tackle the real issues. It wouldnâ€™t have come to this. Our players will lose match fees and exposure, and for some of them it was the only World Cup they were ever going to play in. Why is it that these kids have to carry the burden all the time?
“Will the ICC ever make cricket decisions? It is all about covering their backs. If England stood to lose the hosting rights over Zimbabwe then so be it. If there are issues with Peter Chingoka and his board why is it theyâ€™ve not been dealt with by the ICC? Now our players will not play because of political decisions.
Players who looked forward to be part of exhilarating shorter-version jamboree slammed the pullout, saying it deprives them of a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Said a regular national side player who spoke on anonymity: “Was this a financial decision? Zimbabwe Cricketâ€™s core business is playing cricket. Are we compromising not to play cricket in exchange of a few dollars? Questions must be asked why we are so keen on preserving full member status when we are not playing cricket.”
By their standards, Zimbabwe had a remarkable showing in the inaugural event in South Africa last September, posting a sensational five-wicket win over Australia in their first match.