ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) is hoping to make up for lost time with another busy schedule of international cricket lined up next year, after the Covid-19 pandemic almost decimated their hopes of a bumper season this year.
The Chevrons were scheduled to have a bumper season of international cricket this year, but ended up playing only three series against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan while other assignments against Australia, India, Ireland and Afghanistan were shelved due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
ZC director of cricket Hamilton Masakadza said the national side is set to have three international commitments early next year, while the rest of the schedule is being finalised after some of the postponed tours from last year were pushed forward to 2021.
“We obviously lost most of our international cricket this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and even some of the tournaments and qualifiers had to be postponed but looking ahead to 2021 it is pleasing to note that we are going to recover a lot of that cricket that we missed this year,” Masakadza told IndependentSport in an interview yesterday.
“We are going to have quite a bit of international cricket. We are still to financialise on which of the games we are going to play and others we might not end up playing because there are also other tours from last year which were pushed forward to next year.”
Zimbabwe’s first matches in 2021 come against Afghanistan at the end of next month ahead of other matches against Ireland and Pakistan in the first half of the year.
“For the first bit of the year we will start with a series against Afghanistan which will comprise of two Tests and three T20s and then there should be another international assignment around the end of March or early April, where we are scheduled to have a limited overs series against Ireland. After that there should be a series against Pakistan that will include Tests and T20s so there’s quite a lot of international cricket to look forward to in 2021,” Masakadza said.
The former Zimbabwe batting stalwart, who made the transition to cricket administration, said he is delighted with the effort that was put in place by the ZC administration to breathe new life into domestic cricket structures despite the challenging environment this year.
This year saw ZC putting a lot of effort to revive local cricket structures, with the launch of an elite national club competition, the National Premier League as well as two women’s inter-provincial tournaments, the Fifty50 Challenge and the Women’s T20 Cup, being among the highlights
Masakadza attributes the success to efforts by ZC paying off legacy debts amounting to US$27 million that had been choking the organisation.
“Overall it’s been really a difficult year but we also had a lot of positives come out. I believe managing to clear most of our legacy debts was perhaps the biggest positive for the year in that our financial situation did improve remarkably.
“This has allowed us to implement most of our development programmes like the reintroduction of the National Premier Leagues for the clubs. It’s something we always wanted to do, but we had not managed to due to financial restrictions. For the first time we almost managed to put in place a proper domestic setup for ladies; they used to have games here and there against Under-14 or Under-15 boys sides but this year we managed to organise a full domestic season for them where they competed in T20s and 50-over matches,” Masakadza said.
Masakadza is also pleased with the progress made by the Chevrons on the field of play following the emergence of a new crop of talent headlined by young all-rounder Wesley Madhevere and the team’s famous ODI win against Pakistan.
“On the international front, from the little bit of international cricket that we did have there were some encouraging signs, we’ve seen the emergence of youngsters like Wesley (Madhevere) coming through and doing the job for the national team.
“He’s really come through in leaps and bounds and has taken to international cricket like duck to water. The return of Blessing Muzarabani was also a good positive and we have also seen more youngsters coming through like Milton Shumba who was part of the Under-19 setup with Wesley.
“It was also important for us to get our first points of the ODI Super League during the recent Pakistan tour which is quite important as the league is being used as the qualification for the next World Cup,” the former Chevrons skipper said.