Zimbabwe tri-series to be televised
The unofficial Twenty20 tri-series between Zimbabwe, South Africa and Bangladesh in Harare this month will be broadcast on television, even though it was initially thought the series would not be televised.
South African broadcaster SuperSport confirmed they would screen the seven-match event live, as part of their commitment to both Cricket south Africa (CSA) and Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC). The rights have also been sold to Bangladesh television.
"We are proud partners and want to showcase the talents of youngsters like Chris Morris, Colin Ingram and Richard Levi," Brandon Foot, head of acquisitions and legal for SuperSport, said. "With South Africa's tour of England also due, I've little doubt that interest will be at a premium, notwithstanding the unofficial status."
Organisation for the series finally appears to have come a full circle as it graduated from a five-match bilateral event between South Africa and Zimbabwe to a tournament that also includes Bangladesh.
Although the Zimbabwe board had said the costs of television production would be too much for it to bear, the inclusion of Bangladesh eased some of the monetary concerns and paved the way for the series to be broadcast. The matches will be without official status because the competition is outside the Future Tour Programme.
South Africa initially requested the tour as part of their planning for the World Twenty20 and named a young squad without regular captain AB de Villiers. Bangladesh asked to be part of the series after their request to play ODIs in South Africa was turned down by CSA, who said they could not accommodate any additional matches. ZC then restructured the event so South Africa would still only need to spend a week in the country to play four matches.
While South Africa will use the series as part of the build up to the full tour of England starting in July, for Zimbabwe it is a rare opportunity to play competitive cricket before the World Twenty20. Zimbabwe have not played since their January tour of New Zealand and only have this series and a triangular A series against South Africa A and Sri Lanka A in July.
Zimbabwe's scheduled hosting of Bangladesh in August was postponed because of maintenance work on the pitches in Harare and Bulawayo. Bangladesh were also in danger of not playing enough matches before the World Twenty20. After their Zimbabwe tour was pushed back, Bangladesh tried to engage South Africa for a series, but were rejected. They have since secured matches against Ireland and Netherlands.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent