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Financial losses mar Zimbabwe's Test return

Firdose Moonda in Harare

August 9, 2011

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Zimbabwe run a lap of honour, Bangladesh v Zimbabwe, only Test, Harare, 5th day, August 8, 2011
Success on the field not withstanding, ZC will take five to ten years to break even © AFP
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Zimbabwe's return to Test cricket was a success on the field, but it will take at least "five to ten years" to have the same effect on the board's bank balance. Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) will incur over US$2 million in losses as they re-enter into the game's premier format this summer.

ZC are hosting three tours in the space of five months, playing one Test against each of Bangladesh, Pakistan and New Zealand and a bigger number ODIs and Twenty20 matches. "It costs us around $1.1 million to host a tour," Ozias Bvute, managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket told ESPNcricinfo. "We only earn about $200,000 from TV rights, although it will be slightly less against New Zealand, and about $150,000 from sponsorship." The deficit, of around $750,000 per tour, is made up through loans from local banks, who allow ZC to repay them over an extended period.

Given the rate at which cricket is growing in the country, Bvute believes it will take up to a decade for the debt to be cleared and for ZC to start making profits. "It's a really vicious cycle," an insider said. "We have to get more sponsorship, but the only way we can do that is by playing and winning and we can't play any more if we don't have the money to have more series."

Cricket boards only earn money when they are hosting and Zimbabwe have calculate that only the hosting of India or England will result in a profit, because of the sums of the amount they can make in broadcasting rights, but even that is not an easy option for them. "England have a policy that they don't tour Zimbabwe and India are not available to come very often, so that makes it hard," the insider said.

Instead, ZC has had to find ways to attract more sponsorship from local sources which they have done by presenting them with a bigger market to advertise to. "In order for cricket to be sustainable, we needed people to participate," Bvute said. "So now that we have both black and white supporters watching cricket and attending matches we can work on creating a commodity that is financially viable." There are signs of that already happening, with the domestic twenty-over competition almost breaking even, suffering only "minute losses of about US$80,000".

The introduction of the franchise system two seasons ago has been an essential part of ZC's attempt at financial revival because it has allowed for 100 cricketers in the country to earn salaries. The ZC supplies the five franchises with grants to contract 20 players each, although often for small amounts. Another source revealed that a franchise rookie contract is worth $200-300 a month and that the senior players earn around $5000 a month, but national players can expect to earn more than that once central contracts come into effect.

Wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu raised the issue of no national contracts and the ZC have said they will address the situation by awarding contracts for 12 core players at the start of the domestic season, when franchise contracts come up for renegotiation.

The other major concern is the non-payment of match fees, another matter brought up by Taibu in his criticism of the administration. "There is a provision in the player contracts that says we can pay match fees up until 180 days after a tour," Bvute said. Taibu indicated that match fees had not been paid in a period longer than the stipulated six months, with some players still waiting for their money from the series in Bangladesh that was played in December last year. The board is aware of the problem and Bvute said that they "hope to be able to pay all our players as soon as we can".

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by AlanHarrison on (August 12, 2011, 10:40 GMT)

Depressing to read this from a world cricket point of view. It is not only Zimbabwe's problem. Think of how cricket in Kenya imploded so rapidly even after they had made a world cup semi-final (something England haven't done for twenty years ...). Rakesh_Sharma is correct: the major powers of cricket should support the emerging nations more.

Posted by   on (August 12, 2011, 10:32 GMT)

things will work out zimbabwe cricket is bright i know the guys can win games

Posted by Proteas123 on (August 11, 2011, 9:01 GMT)

@ Moorthy Rathinasamy - SA supports Zim with a lot more than just their cricket. A significant amount of the income in Zim is earned in SA. SA support has also possibly contributed to there problems not being resolved.

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (August 11, 2011, 1:31 GMT)

Aaaaaaaah!! When Alistair Cambell, Neil Johnson, Heath Streak & Flower Brothers were playing for Zimbabwe, cricket was so peaceful with no material (human & financial) crisis. Miss those days too much.............

Posted by   on (August 10, 2011, 19:10 GMT)

Boards like BCCI should come forward as savior of the cricket in a nation...

Posted by mahjut on (August 10, 2011, 18:32 GMT)

I imagine the ICC has helped - not that I know for sure but I remember reading about 5 years ago that cricinfo donated a few million to Zimbabawe - where did it go. I think regular auditing will/should come with any donations (but therein lies a problem - the usual talk of "sovereinty" will start). ZC has to continue on the path it's taken and that is a willingness to progress and aid will be more forthcoming - and hopefully, eventually, unnecessary).

Posted by Dragon_7654 on (August 10, 2011, 16:53 GMT)

1) As always a lot of people here going on about BCCI, its coffers etc. I'm not a big fan of the way BCCI handles many things myself, but when it comes to helping boards like Zimbabwe out, they seem to be alright - the Indian team seems to play a lot of seemingly useless matches against Zimbabwe, but since these help ZC survive surely BCCI has done its bit (Indian fans may not be happy about the pointless matches though despite the runs and wickets their players cash in on.) 2) ICC must provide the funds, and ZC should handle things well, but someone did mention the word audit... 3) Indian players are not that bad... read this about someone the Aussies love to hate - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/people/We-overreact/articleshow/5940531.cms (btw, it's good that he's been sent home from England on current form)

Cheers

Posted by   on (August 10, 2011, 16:13 GMT)

SA and KEN are the sister countries and they should step-in to step-up ZIM

Posted by Rakesh_Sharma on (August 10, 2011, 13:04 GMT)

BCCI(India)India representing almost 75% of cricketing public must help Zimbabwe. The Coffers of BCCI are overflowing.Just RaviShastri and Gavaskar are being paid millions for very biased commentary is nonsense. Atleast the rich Indian Cricketers must share a portion for betterment of world cricket. It is their moral duty. If more strong teams are in World cricket it will be good for Indian cricket and cricketers in the long run. How can Cricket survive otherwise? Do not use and pay Zimbabwe for votes only BCCI. Provide real money for real development of cricket.

Posted by vasu.aitharaju on (August 10, 2011, 12:47 GMT)

1 icon player's fee & sponsorships of the last ranked IPL team, is much higher than the annual deficit of ZC.

Ridiculous fact is that BCC revenues from IPL are tax exempt, because the stupid IPL is supposedly promoting T20 cricket. T20 is not cricket. It's a flashy entertainment. It doesn't need any promotion. Bollywood producers should conduct the IPL, not BCC or ICC.

ICC should tax the richer cricket boards and promote test cricket in Zimbabwe.

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