ZIMBABWE’s cricket family must have been relieved this week following the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to remove the country from the list of member nations in crisis.
The decision means Zimbabwe will remain a Full Member of the global organisation, with its Test status intact and, more importantly, enjoying all forms of support and the privilege to rub shoulders with the elite of world cricket.
The imminent loss of Test status, which comes with suspension from the ICC family of nations, has been hanging over the cash-strapped ZC for some time.
Uncertainty makes it difficult for players and staff in any organisation, sporting or otherwise, to be fully focused.
Thanks to the diplomatic manoeuvres and engagement efforts made by Tavengwa Mukhlani’s leadership, the albatross has been lifted and Zimbabwe can now focus on growing the game and paying attention to development without having to worry about suspension.
This is yet another massive boardroom coup for the country’s second biggest sporting discipline.
The latest development means the country can still access direct funding from the ICC, which is key in the sport that requires millions of dollars annually to meet operational costs.
In essence, Zimbabwe’s future as a Full Member of the ICC is now secure.
The country will continue getting its full quota of financial injection from the ICC, a key factor in ensuring players and staff are paid their dues and also to bankroll the cost of hosting international teams and fulfilling tours.
The ball is now in ZC’s court.
Already, strides have been made in efforts to pay off their debts estimated in the region of $19 million.
Zimbabwe have since come up with a model to the satisfaction of ICC and among other measures they have since streamlined the staff and reviewed all player contracts.
ZC have also pledged to start the domestic season by end of this year and the calendar was released this week with the first games set for December 1.
But besides revamping the domestic game to ensure more game time for the players, there is also need to look at grassroots development and retaining the interest among the talented schoolboys.
Grassroots development is important for the continued survival of the game. While ZC should be applauded for their efforts to take the game to every corner of the country, there is still more to be done.
There is need for more staff training, identification and active support of good players, umpires, scorers with a bias towards the future.
The association should also make it a priority that as many highly talented young men and women as possible emerge from the end of the development pipeline fully prepared to join their professional and amateur colleagues.
Usually there is a big chasm between schools sport and professional cricket. Some of the young players, talented enough to make the national age-group teams, usually disappear from the scene after completing school. Club cricket is crucial in this regard since it is usually difficult to break into franchise cricket.
The fact that ZC have largely been recycling the same players, without success on the pitch, is a serious indictment on their development model. Nothing is coming off the conveyor belt!
Right now the national cricket team has been struggling to get results, and it’s a reflection of something that is not right.
It is sad Zimbabwe are now apparently behind some of the emerging nations such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh as demonstrated by results and the international rankings.
It is time for ZC to reflect on their administrative structures and their performance as well.
They should put behind the disappointment that the Chevrons failed to make it to next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup in England and try to focus on the future – the 2023 World Cup.
This is the time to start doing the groundwork.
It’s also time to review the crop of players they have in national teams.
In the long run, and with continued support from the ICC, Zimbabwe cricket will be back on its feet and geared to achieve even much more.