Zimbabwe cricket team has seen many ups and downs throughout cricket. From their peak time in the late 90s and early 2000s till the middle of 2019 when they got their first suspension-they appear to have been living with uncertainty and far greater administrative issues. Cricket Zimbabwe was a team to beat once upon a time. A team that had players like Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Heath Streak, Alastair Campbell, Neil Johnson, and many others, it was full of competitiveness and exciting to watch.
Unfortunately, things have changed. The cricket board from Southern Africa had many issues, including financial problems, players’ lack of trust in the administration, the Kolpak deal, and anything else in between.
Financial and economic issues are not only a problem for the Zimbabwean cricket board, but the aggrieving issue is also being faced by their government. Lack of funds for the cricket board being released by their government is meager and does not meet the financial needs of the players.
This results in lower wages and salaries for the cricketers being involved with Zimbabwe Cricket Board. An example, during 2015 World Cup campaign, the Zimbabwe Cricketers earned a total sum of 250 Australian Dollars each for their 10 matches. In comparison, Australian cricketers got 5600 USD each per match in the same World Cup. This is the reason why Zimbabwean cricketers are often seen protesting against their cricket board, calling for an increase in their wages. We see match boycotts and often threats, to end their career with the Zimbabwean Cricket Board.
Lack of trust between players and the Zimbabwe cricket board
The financial friction between the board and the Zimbabwean cricketers lead to disputes and boycotts. Constant pay-cuts and delayed salaries that have even extended over a whole year and beyond irritate the players. Cricketers filled with mistrust and agony are often seen protesting against the board. In 2003 World Cup, England was set to play Zimbabwe in Harare. England players were worried for their safety when players received death threats from an organisation called “The Sons and daughters of Zimbabwe” A year later 13 of the senior white players of team quit is a dispute over selection policy.
The debt grew to $18 million and the board not could not pay its player, but had to make shorter contracts and less play time.
The Kolpak Deal
The Kolpak Deal haunts many of the cricket playing nations. Especially countries that pay low wages to their players are often seen as victims. Cricketers from Zimbabwe are no exception in this case as a few of their cricketers had signed this deal, and they vowed to not represent their team again. Notable names from Zimbabwe who signed the Kolpak deal are: Brendon Taylor (2015-2017), Grant Flower (2004-2010), and Murray Goodwin (2005).
It is hard to see cricket nations going backward like this. Wealthy cricket boards and the ICC should offer their helping hands to the boards in need of it. This will result in the gentleman’s game progress in every cricket playing nation, and fans get to see their favorite teams in their respective colors.
It is not curtain’s just yet for Zimbabwe, news has come about that the debt is slowly being managed carefully. After taking loans and restructuring, the load has somewhat lifted. It is not just the financial burden is lifted; the players spirits have also been lifted. They are standing strong and committing themselves to their flag and the game. Raza Sikandar plays in the CPL and is very excited about it. Tendai Chatara is back after a bicep injury and is roaring to start domestic cricket. There were a few games in the pipeline before a massive hurdle called Covid-19 came around. Zimbabwe had India, Ireland and Australia planned before the pandemic. The team has all been tested and thankfully the results are negative. The board is trying to arrange a series with Afghanistan on home ground. The application is pending approval.