HARARE – Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has the ability to regain its past glory despite recent setbacks on the pitch according to their main sponsor Total Sports Marketing (TSM). By Austin Karonga
The national team was knocked out of the on-going WT20 at the qualifying stages after losing to Associate nation Afghanistan by 59 runs in India.
This was not the first time the locals lost to Afghanistan having been humiliated 4-0 in the build-up to the World T20 in the United Arab Emirates.
Zimbabwe also struggled to beat lowly-ranked Associate nations Scotland and Hong Kong at the same tournament.
TSM chief executive Moinul Chowdury said: “TSM is in continuous discussion with ZC to develop the game in Zimbabwe. We are discussing in whatever way we can contribute and it’s on the cricket board to strategise the policies.”
The ZC board led by former chairperson Wilson Manase last year signed an eight-year deal with the leading Bangladesh sports marketing agency.
Under the agreement, TSM will cater for all the expenses for Zimbabwe’s home tours across the three formats.
With ZC struggling to host incoming tours, the deal with TSM now guarantees at least 50 days of international cricket.
The two partners had also mooted a plan to build a 15 000-seater venue in Victoria Falls to host internationals matches.
The ground-breaking ceremony was slated for last December but it seems the idea has been put at the back burner for now.
“We are not considering the stadium project at this point rather we will look forward to help ZC with development programmes to properly nurture the future talents,” Chowdury said.
“We never signed a contract for the stadium project, only discussed the possibilities and our intention which we believe there are more urgent things to do to develop and improve the game of cricket in Zimbabwe.”
TSM recently expanded its wings to the country’s dominant sport — football — where they have signed a $100 million sponsorship deal with the Zimbabwe Football Association.
Chowdury said their agreements with ZC will not be compromised by their flirtation with football.
“Not really, and the commitment towards soccer is based on a specific tournament which also encompasses the national team and youth team development,” Chowdury said.
ZC and TSM have set a target for Zimbabwe to be ranked eighth or better on the ICC rankings by December 2017 in order to avoid playing qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup.
“I don’t even want to think that Zimbabwe will miss the World Cup. I have firm belief that, ZC along with the whole country will do their best to ensure that,” Chowdury said.
“In the unlikely event of missing the berth at the World Cup, it would have severe commercial impact on the brand value; however, the brand value is not higher at this point in any case.”