JOHANNESBURG – In the first week of November 2018 Zimbabwe stunned the cricket world by beating Bangladesh by 151 runs in Sylhet in the first of two Tests.
It had been nearly a year since Zimbabwe had last played a Test - a hastily arranged day/night affair in Port Elizabeth - and so the rest of the world was right to be shocked by the outcome of that match against Bangladesh, who had earned significant respect in home conditions with wins against England and Australia in the preceding 18 months.
Who knows when Zimbabwe will next get an opportunity to play a Test? Who knows when the Zimbabwean teams - men, women and juniors - will next get opportunities to play, after the International Cricket Council suspended Zimbabwe Cricket this week.
The suspension ostensibly relates to what the ICC terms is government interference in cricket in Zimbabwe. That is weird. Governments interfere in cricket all the time it would seem and at no point has Sri Lanka, India or South Africa - to name three - been suspended by the ICC.
In SA’s case it was the setting up of the Nicholson Commission in 2011 by the then Sports Minister; Sri Lanka’s Sports Ministry regularly involves itself in the affairs of that country’s cricket board, last year setting up a committee to run the sport; and India’s BCCI is still overseen by what is called the Committee of Administrators, a three-person group appointed by that country’s Supreme Court. No ICC sanctions were handed down in those cases.
Zimbabwe has recently had its cricket administration dissolved by the country’s Sports and Recreation Commission - an independent body, mandated by an act of the country’s parliament to ensure that sports federations comply with the country’s laws.
That decision was taken in an attempt to help Zimbabwe Cricket resolve its administrative and financial issues, but it hasn’t gone down well with the ICC, which took its decision this week, one that will have severe implications for the sport in that country.
Already four members of the women’s team were barred from taking part in a global development squad which was touring in England; all-rounder Solomon Mire announced his international retirement and reports suggest more could follow him.
That is just incredibly sad. There is, as former Zimbabwean international, and current Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower told cricinfo.com, understandably frustration with Zimbabwean Cricket from the ICC, who have granted the ZC many financial bailouts in the last few years.
The suspension leaves many players not knowing where to turn next.
One of the most moving images from the last South African season was a short video that went online showing 22 year old leg-spinner Brandon Mavuta having what amounted to a mini clinic with Imran Tahir following a T20 International in East London.
Mavuta made quite an impression on the Zimbabwean team’s short limited overs tour here at the start of the 2017/18 season. He is clearly a very talented bowler looking to master a very difficult art and the tips from Tahir would have been invaluable in terms of his development.
Where will he get to use that knowledge now?@shockerhess