The Zimbabwe cricket team suffered a set back ahead of the T20 World Cup in March after domestic cricket was officially postponed to next month due to a crippling financial crisis in the country. According to the domestic calendar, a T20 tournament was supposed to be held this month to help selectors assess the players in that format of the game. Zimbabwe Cricket’s inability to pay player salaries has dented its hopes of having a proper preparation ahead of the mega event in March.
Efforts by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to persuade players to return to domestic action have since failed and the association has resigned to giving itself more time to look for the much needed sponsorship while deferring matches to March. The players were asked to continue training with their franchises to maintain fitness ahead of the Bangladesh tour in March. However, the players have ignored the directive.
Yesterday, Chairman of selectors, Givemore Makoni said they had come up with a 30-man provisional squad based on performances against Pakistan and Bangladesh last year.
“We have had to use stats from the previous tours since we do not have any matches going on at the moment. The squad will be trimmed next month and hopefully we would have had a few games played. The situation is not ideal but we remain optimistic that it can be sorted and the preparations can begin,” said Makoni.
Zimbabwe will have to go through a pre-World Cup qualifier and are in the same pool as Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands. Zimbabwe played Ireland in a warm-up match ahead of the last World Cup in 2012 and lost. The Irish will be the biggest threat to Zimbabwes hopes of qualifying to the Super Ten stages to join other Test-playing nations.
A home limited overs series against Afghanistan was on the cards until the latest strike. Zimbabwe will join the fray as the most ill-prepared team at the global showcase with the threat of an early exit at the hands of associate members looming.
National coach Andy Waller has expressed disappointment with the situation ahead of the World Cup where he will be expected to produce results. Players on central contracts are owed three months salaries while coaches have been unpaid for five months. Sources have indicated that it is unlikely ZC will be able to secure the required funds this month and the likely date for the resumption of the domestic league is February. Players have resorted to seeking alternative sources of income for their upkeep.