THE national cricket team will have precious little time to prepare for the T-20 World Cup in March after the stare of domestic cricket was officially deferred to next month owing to a crippling financial crisis.
According to the domestic calendar a T-20 tournament was supposed to be held this month to afford selectors an opportunity to assess players in that format of the game.
However, a stay away by the players over unpaid salaries and allowances has stymied their preparations for the global showcase.
Efforts by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to persuade players to return to domestic action have since failed and the association has resigned to giving itself more time to look for the much needed sponsorship while deferring matches to March.
The players were asked to continue training with their franchises to maintain fitness ahead of the Bangladesh tour in March. However, the players have ignored the directive.
Yesterday chairman of selectors Givemore Makoni said they had come up with a 30-man provisional squad based on performances against Pakistan and Bangladesh last year.
“We have had to use stats from the previous tours since we do not have any matches going on at the moment,” said Makoni. “The squad will be trimmed next month and hopefully we would have had a few games played. The situation is not ideal but we remain optimistic that it can be sorted and the preparations can begin.”
Zimbabwe will have to go through a pre-World Cup qualifier and is in the same pool as Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.
Zimbabwe played Ireland in a warm-up match ahead of the last World Cup in 2012 and lost.
The Irish will be the biggest threat to Zimbabwe’s hopes of qualifying to the Super Ten stages to join other Test-playing nations.
A home limited overs series with Afghanistan was on the cards until the latest strike. Zimbabwe will join the fray as the most ill-prepared team at the global showcase with the threat of an early exit at the hands of associate members looming.
National coach Andy Waller has expressed disappointment with the situation ahead of the World Cup where he will be expected to produce results. Players on central contracts are owed three months’ salaries while coaches have been unpaid for five months.
Sources have indicated that it is unlikely ZC will be able to secure the required funds this month and the likely date for the resumption of the domestic league is February.
Players have resorted to seeking alternative sources of income for their upkeep. Batsman Regis Chakabva is playing club cricket in Australia.
Chakabva had a promising start to the Logan Cup this year when he scored a double century for Mashonaland Eagles.