DESPITE the razzmatazz of the Cricket World Cup qualification tournament staged in Zimbabwe early this year, governing body International Cricket Council (ICC) has adjudged the event unsuccessful and poorly organised by the host board, IndependentSport can reveal.
By Enock Muchinjo
The biggest sporting showcase to be held by Zimbabwe was characterised by record crowds — the biggest ever witnessed at cricket matches in this country — and the tournament seemed to go without much of a hitch from a casual observer’s point of view.
But a post-tournament report compiled by the ICC’s senior events operations manager Simon Jelowitz branded the overall management and handling of the tournament unsatisfactory.
“The tournament director and senior management team were inexperienced in event delivery and lacked the leadership required to best manage the workload and appointed staff,” read the report by Jelowitz, a copy of which is in our possession.
Jelowitz, who has previously worked as the International Rugby Board’s tournaments manager, New Zealand Rugby Union operations manager and then as general manager for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, however reserved some praise for lower-level staffers who worked during the tournament.
“Some junior level staff need to be commended for their diligence in delivering the event. Some have left or will leave the Zimbabwe cricket family,” he noted, advising the ICC board to implore ZC to permanently retain the skills of the capable junior staff in “key positions”.
But Jelowitz, who also lamented the absence of former ZC managing director Faisal Hasnain throughout the tournament, did not declare any major success during the event, with the column “Successes” under each category of the report left blank.
The ICC however acknowledged that the late appointment of Zimbabwe as host might have contributed to some of the concerns during the tournament.
“Zimbabwe Cricket is not a stable board with a lot of uncertainty and lack of basic resources, sometimes through no fault of their own,” reads the report.
“Running a large scale event as well as managing these day to day issues proved problematic. The inexperience of the hosts meant that some planning and operational elements that would normally be taken for granted, could not be in this instance.”
The most damning observation by the ICC was in the areas of finance, personnel and operations.
“Throughout the tournament, a number of casual staff, mainly net bowlers were complaining that they were either not receiving money or being underpaid and as a result, threatened to withdraw their resources.”
It further noted delays and non-deliverance of paid-for equipment, which ZC has been ordered to account for.
“Despite ordering and paying for a significant amount of grounds equipment months in advance from South Africa to mitigate risk to the wickets and field of play, some arrived towards end of the event and some did not arrive at all.”
The ZC senior management came under even deeper criticism for putting the tournament into “jeopardy” for even failing to avail themselves at match venues during appropriate times.
“No plan had been made for the LOC (local organising committee) senior staff to be present on match days. ICC requested presence of the SMT (senior management team) at each venue on several occasions and this did not happen, putting the issues of management and crisis management into jeopardy.”
The Zimbabwe experience is likely in future to affect the way the ICC awards and directs tournaments of this magnitude.
Recommended Jelowitz in conclusion: “As well as implementing a bidding process for events, recommendation that part of the host fee be guaranteed and part is payable only if the host achieves previously agreed KPIs (key-performance areas) to ICC’s satisfaction.”