Mali tips Zimbabwe for the top
Ray Mali, the ICC president, believes Zimbabwe will be at the top of the ICC ODI championship table if the current team is allowed to remain intact for the next three years.
Mali told the Zimbabwean Herald on Tuesday: "The programmes that they (ZC) have will, I believe, take cricket far and it has been demonstrated by what we saw over the last three one-day games, especially on Sunday when Zimbabwe was almost there. And I believe these boys - if they are given a chance to play for the next three years as one unit - they will be at the top of world rankings.
"It is not a dream, I believe it can be done. Zimbabwe Cricket will have to continue exposing these boys to higher class, intensive cricket all the time. Zimbabwe Cricket will have my support, they will have the support of ICC with this type of cricket that has been demonstrated over the last few days."
Mali, the former head of the South Africa board, heaped praised on the current ZC leadership, saying they have managed to have a sustained developmental programme that will ensure a constant supply of talent.
"At the same time I am excited by the involvement of schools in the cricket set-up which augurs well for the future because I believe with the participation of schools, from the Under-11 age-group up to the top, it means the future of cricket in this country is guaranteed.
"There will be a constant flow of players going up and the quality of leadership that has been assigned to look after the cricket here is of the highest quality that you can find anywhere in the world. It compares well with what we have in South Africa and other parts of the world."
Mali was in Zimbabwe for a six-day working visit to familiarise himself with the happenings inside Zimbabwean cricket. He returned home yesterday afternoon along with the South African team.
"We live in a world that is governed by the information that is sent out to the various members of the world community. I came out to Zimbabwe simply because I wanted to experience myself what is happening out here. We tend to get conflicting reports about the situation in terms of cricket but the most important motivation for my coming here is that my predecessor Advocate Percy Sonn was here in August last with the CEO of ICC Malcolm Speed.
"At that stage Zimbabwe were busy having a new board in place, trying to set up new cricket structures and at the same time I was here 13 years ago as manager of the South Africa A team.
"Now looking at the facilities that I saw in Bulawayo and Harare, I was quite amazed by the giant strides that Zimbabwe have taken to have facilities that measure up to world standards in terms of playing cricket.
"Now even on the development front I did go to Emakhandeni (Bulawayo) to have a look because, unfortunately, in Africa we have had the unfortunate situation where facilities are wrongly placed.
"You find good, better and more facilities in areas where there are fewer people using them. In South Africa we have facilities that are under-utilised and I am pleased to note that the Zimbabwe Cricket board are busy tackling that serious imbalance to have more facilities in the high-density areas."