ICC set to decide future of Zimbabwe Cricket
The status of Zimbabwe's Full Membership with the ICC might become clear during the board meeting of the game's governing body in Dubai next week.
Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) was suspended in July after the ICC deemed that there was government interference in the running of the board, which had been stood down by the country's Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), a body tasked to regulate sporting organisations in the country.
The suspension has left ZC without ICC funding - they were due to receive US $94 million over eight years - and their national teams are currently excluded from ICC events. However, with their status likely to be reviewed, a proper picture of their immediate future will emerge soon. Here's a brief explainer:
What are the potential outcomes for ZC?
The best case for ZC would be its reinstatement as a Full Member. If the ICC is still concerned about ZC's governance, it could opt for a reinstatement with conditions. If the governing body deems ZC hasn't met the requirements, it could remain suspended. The worst-case scenario remains having their membership terminated.
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What did ZC need to do for their suspension to be lifted?
In a letter on July 24, the ICC asked ZC to "unconditionally reinstate" the board that was stood down by the SRC no later than October 8 and provide "satisfactory evidence" that ZC will "administer its affairs free of external interference and influence".
Has ZC met these requirements?
It claims to have done so.
On August 8, three weeks after ZC was suspended, the SRC stated that it had lifted the suspension and that the interim manager they had put in place - former ZC chairman Dave Ellman-Brown - "would cease to be responsible for ZC's affairs". The board, chaired by Tavengwa Mukuhlani, has been reinstated since then, which meets the ICC's first requirement.
This is what a ZC spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo: "The SRC has made an undertaking not to interfere in the affairs of ZC, and ZC has furnished this correspondence to ICC." It's now up to the governing body to decide if this correspondence is enough evidence to guarantee the ZC's independence.
Does this mean that ZC is now run properly?
What it does mean is that an SRC-appointed board - one that included a number of names many consider to be credible - will not be running ZC. Mukuhlani's board is back in charge, the same one that has overseen several years of financial and administrative crisis, including multiple player strikes.
What will lifting the suspension mean for Zimbabwe's cricketers?
This much is certain: it's too late for them to participate in the T20 World Cup Qualifiers in Dubai (from October 28), where Nigeria have replaced them. They could, however, feature in the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa in January-February 2020 if ZC is reinstated.
Will their home series against West Indies later this month go ahead, irrespective of ICC's decision?
No. The visit was due to take place around the time of the T20 World Cup Qualifiers, which Zimbabwe would have been a part of. So the series stands postponed and new dates are yet to be worked out.
What will lifting the suspension mean for ZC as an organisation?
For starters, it will start receiving ICC funding again. For an organisation steeped in debt, in a country with a struggling economy, money is a lifeblood. It could finance the Zimbabwean domestic season, renewal of player and staff contracts, and maybe even fund an incoming tour. Whether ZC will be able to satisfactorily manage and stretch that money remains to be seen. At the non-monetary level, reinstatement will also give ZC its ICC voting rights back.