Eddie Chikamhi, Harare Bureau
THE current stand-off between Zimbabwe Cricket and the Sports and Recreation Commission claimed its first major casualty at the weekend when the senior women national side’s scheduled tour of Ireland was cancelled at the last-minute because of lack of funding.
The Lady Chevrons, who are preparing for the T20 World Cup Global Qualifier to be held in Scotland this August, were left lamenting over the missed opportunity as ZC could not secure funding from the ICC because of the current impasse.
There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the future of cricket in Zimbabwe following the recent suspension of the entire ZC board by the Sports Commission.
Acting Managing Director, Givemore Makoni, was also affected by the suspensions.
The ZC management was suspended for defying the Sports Commission’s directive to shelve a scheduled AGM amid allegations of financial misappropriation.
The suspended ZC board has challenged the dismissal at the Administrative Court.
The Sports Commission have claimed that the suspended ZC officials are sabotaging cricket operations and are blocking the interim board led by Dave Ellman Brown to settle.
The ICC last week responded by cutting off the funding to Zimbabwe pending a determination at their annual conference on July 18 where they would need to enquire into whether the decision by the Sports Commission constituted government interference.
The ICC have a zero-tolerance on government interference, which may result in drastic consequences that include Zimbabwe’s suspension from the ICC activities and the freezing of development funds.
The Lady Chevrons, who have been putting all their energies and focus on the Irish tour in the last few months, suffered a huge blow following the cancellation of the tour at the eleventh hour.
Their participation at the Global Qualifier is now also in jeopardy.
Ireland, who are also scheduled to take part at the T20 World Cup Global Qualifier, were shattered by the news from Zimbabwe after they had done all the ground work in preparing for the tour.
Ireland Cricket were set to host both the Zimbabwe men’s and women’s teams in what was supposed to be a big week of cricket.
And, while the Zimbabwe men’s team have arrived in Ireland for a series of one-day and T20 games, Cricket Ireland reacted with disappointment to the news that the Lady Chevrons were no longer able to travel.
There have been huge financial costs involved in the preparations for this tour after the hosts got a US$500 000 bailout from ICC last month to make the event a success.
However, the mood in Ireland has since dampened and the Irish have made their feelings clear in a media statement.
“We’re desperately disappointed, but our thoughts also go out to our Zimbabwe Women counterparts — a great team that we were very much looking forward to playing. We hope to meet you on the field soon,” said Cricket Ireland on their Twitter page.
Cricket Ireland Chief Executive, Warren Deutrom, said the move by Zimbabwe equally disadvantaged their women’s team.
“We received correspondence from Zimbabwe Cricket in which we were informed that due to a funding issue, Zimbabwe Cricket will not be sending their women’s team to Ireland.
“With the team due to arrive on Sunday (yesterday), there is clearly no time to find an alternate and, after urgent consultation with the ICC to seek clarification, we regret to confirm the women’s tour has been cancelled.
“This will not, however, impact upon the men’s tour which will proceed as scheduled.
“Notwithstanding the significant and costly considerations for Cricket Ireland — including venue hire and management, infrastructure hire, training days, catering, hotel, accommodation and promotional costs — we are all desperately sorry for the players, fans and the many staff and volunteers from across the cricket community who had supported planning for this tour and who planned to be at these matches.
“We are additionally conscious that this series was an important piece of our preparations for the upcoming ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier and we will look into alternative arrangements so our senior women’s team will not be completely disadvantaged by these disappointing circumstances.
“We will make further information available as it comes to hand,” said Deutrom.
The Chevrons, on the other hand, are set to renew their rivalries with Ireland’s men’s team today when they meet in the first game of the three-match One Day International series.
The two nations have met 10 times, with the Chevrons winning six and losing three. They are also set to meet in three T20I games.
Zimbabwe, who were coming from a disappointing ODI whitewash at the hands of Netherlands, began the tour of Ireland on a depressing note when they lost their only warm-up game by 27 runs on Saturday.