Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) is geared to resist proposals that could see the country losing International Cricket Council (ICC) full membership as well as getting relegated to the lower tier of Test cricket. By Kevin Mapasure
The ICC board meeting which was held earlier this month came up with proposals that if adopted at the next meeting in April would see the formation of a new second-tier Test league composed of Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe who will drop from the top tier.
In the top tier will be nine nations who play a league over a period of two legs.
There is no mention in the proposals that cater for promotion into the top tier, which means Zimbabwe could be shut out of playing the big boys for a long time.
The proposals are also meant to do away with guaranteed full membership. Full member nations could lose their status after consideration of finance management, good governance and results.
While ZC admit that they are not in a good financial state and that results have also not been good, they are opposed to have that enshrined into the constitution and will resist such at the next meeting.
ZC board chairperson Tavengwa Mukuhlani told Independent Sport in an interview that they had resolved to oppose the new proposals that threaten both their full membership and Test status.
“The proposals on membership are adverse to us and we will make our views known to the ICC,” Mukuhlani said.
“We hope to get support from other progressive minds because what happens to us today will happen to another nation tomorrow.”
He said his board was in agreement that there should be good governance and accountability in the way finances are handled.
“We are in agreement that funds should be well administered and there should be good corporate governance. But there are certain things that you cannot make constitutional. For example you cant say today you are not performing well so you are no longer a full member. To gain membership is a process, for example Afghanistan is doing well working towards attaining full membership, but if they were to lose form the year they gain membership what would we do in that kind of situation? Strip them of full membership? The bulk of revenue in cricket comes from India at the moment. Let’s say for some reason India have a dip in form and start losing, are we going to then say India you are no longer a member, is that possible?”
He argued that form cannot be used as one of the tools to determine full membership considering that countries do not play the same number of matches. ZC find it unfair for the ICC to even consider taking away full membership with the country having put in so much to gain it in the first place.
“We agree that we must compete and win, but that cannot be enshrined into the constitution.
“It is agreeable from our side that Afghanistan and Ireland still need time for them to be ready to compete in the Test arena and that we want the two to have time to improve should not be done at the expense of Zimbabwe. It took New Zealand 27 years to win their first Test match and look at how long it took us, three years. We agree that today we are a weak nation in terms of Test cricket but it is not a permanent thing. In any case the way we are losing is not peculiar to us. We are losing matches the way other nations are losing. Australia lost 3-0 to Sri Lanka and they also lost to South Africa at home. We played against New Zealand and we competed well with all matches lasting five days. Those were by no means one-sided matches, it was not unusual.”
Mukuhlani said Zimbabwe is not a failure in Test cricket and getting relegated to the second-tier league will not improve global interest in the longest version of the game before adding that Zimbabwe had not played enough cricket to get judged and compared with other nations.
“It’s as if we are being made a scapegoat of the decrease in value of Test cricket. A Test match between Australia and India in Adelaide losing value has got nothing to do with Zimbabwe. We have got nothing to do with the shrinking value of the Ashes. Relegating Zimbabwe will not increase the value of the other matches. We are not playing as much Test cricket as other nations but get judged on the few matches that we have played. You cannot say we have failed as a Test nation when no one is playing us. If we want to have relegation then there should be a deliberate programme to make sure we all play the same number of matches.”
Mukuhlani explained that ZC abstained from voting on the proposed new financial model because they had not had time to study its advantages and disadvantages.
“On the new financial model we abstained from voting because we had not had time to study it, we have done that now and we will table our views. But I think we should have guiding principles on the sharing of revenue, not to have figures that Zimbabwe gets so much in the constitution. What if the ICC funds shrink, how do we solve that?”
The big three, India, Australia and England, proposed a new financial model in 2014 where the three would share the bulk of the cake, but other nations have resisted that and want a different model where they stand to benefit more.
“Zimbabwe abstained from voting because we had not had time to study the merits and demerits of that model. That process has been done, we took it to the board and discussed and now we have a position and we will present our views to the ICC.”