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Netherlands vs Zimbabwe 2nd ODI, June 21. Photo: @ZimCricketv/Twitter

Zimbabwe cricket board, managing director suspended

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The ICC World Cup is in full-swing and while Afghanistan’s meteoric rise to the top 10 has been a joy to watch, Zimbabwe team’s demise has coincided with it.

The Zimbabwe Cricket Board was suspended, on Friday (June 21), with immediate effect by the Sports and Recreation Commission, the governing organistaion for Zimbabwe’s recognised sporting organistaions. Givemore Makoni, the board’s acting MD was also suspended.

This World Cup has been the first time since their debut in 1983 that Zimbabwe have not participated. The team that during the early 2000s was such a rich pasture of talent that nobody doubted the fate that has befallen it today.

An interim committee has been formed to govern Zimbabwean cricket, comprised of David Ellman-Brown, Ahmed Ibrahim, Charlie Robertson, Cyprian Mandenge, Robertson Chinyengetere, Sekesai Nhokwara and Duncan Frost.

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The move followed as a result of ZC ignoring the directive from the SRC, asking it to suspend its electoral process after alleged complaints about the nomination process violating the constitution of the board. Nevertheless, the elections went ahead and Makoni was re-elected for a second term, prompting the SRC to come down hard.

“It cannot be in national interest that a national sporting association continues to conduct itself in a manner that it suggests that it and its officials are a law unto themselves. Certain of its office bearers, past and present, have been the subject matter of allegations involving fraud exchange control violations and other acts of corruption and criminality related to the monies and assets of Zimbabwe Cricket and the International Cricket Council,” said a SRC press release on the matter.

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Entrenched in political turmoil, murky policies, overdue payments and alleged corruption, Zimbabwe’s cricketing controversies have been continuing for more than a decade and were contributing factors in the dissolution of its board, noted the SRC.

“It is a matter of documented public knowledge that Zimbabwe Cricket has been the subject matter of several controversies over the years. There have been allegations of outright disregard for its own constitution, neglect of the development of the game and related infrastructure throughout the country,” said the release.

The dissolution could have spurred by ex-head coach Heath Streak’s decision to submit a legal application against Zimbabwe Cricket to the high court in Harare. The eight-page court document pleads for the ZC to be dissolved in order for the board to pay its debts.

This occurred after Streak lost his job along with the entire coaching staff in July, when Zimbabwe failed to make the cut for the World Cup in the Qualifiers tournament held in their own back yard in March 2018.

However, as alleged by the then assistant coach and former captain Tatenda Taibu, half of the team refrained from coming out to train ahead of their crunch match against the West Indies as they had not been paid their allowances.

The Zimbabwe Cricket Supporters Union (ZCSU) had also called for the immediate surrender of Zimbabwe Cricket board quoting a number of complaints, in July 2018. “We feel the board that you lead has failed to properly run and manage cricket in Zimbabwe and we call upon you to do the noble”, ZCSU chairperson, Tapfumaneyi Banhire had written in his ultimatum to the Zimbabwe Cricket board.

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Cricket has always been rife with problems in Zimbabwe since the mid-2000s. Following the dark years of the mid-2000s where the team had lost out on playing a Test match, there was a spate of time where the possibility of a resurgence encouraged fans.

Indeed, Brendan Taylor led the Zimbabwean side in the one-off home Test against Bangladesh played in the year 2011 which marked their return to Test cricket, a format Zimbabwe had not played since 2005. However, the good times were not for long.

Taylor announced his retirement from international cricket in 2015 after the World Cup where he was one of the top 10 run-getters across all teams, but was paid only $250 by the ZC for the World Cup. In fact, Taylor signed a Kolpak deal with Nottinghamshire that prevented him from playing in Zimbabwe.

In October 2016, Zimbabwe played their 100th Test match, with new captain Graeme Cremer scoring a century. Taylor even broke off his agreement and decided to re-join the Zimbabwe national team as things seemed to be going better overall as the Qualifiers approached. Players remained unpaid for long periods of time, but in general, the mood in the camp was hopeful.

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However, a shock loss to UAE saw the hosts crash out of qualification. The board responded drastically, removing the entire coaching faculty and the captain. This set off the sequence of events that prompted Streak to submit the legal application against the ZC.

With the board dissolved, cricket fans would hope that efforts are made by the new interim committee and their permanent suitors bring about changes that the now-defunct CZ had not effected. The Zimbabwe of old seems to be a distant dream. It needs to be seen whether the sport can be rejuvenated to reach those heights, or will it simply be a case of cricket gradually petering out in a country that fails to make it into the top 10 teams in the world right now.

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