Pakistan in Zimbabwe 2013 September 4, 2013

Cost-saving forces change of venue for second Test


Zimbabwe Cricket have implemented drastic cost-saving measures, including playing the second Test against Pakistan in Harare instead of travelling to Bulawayo, to ensure the remainder of the series goes ahead as planned. Other measures could include ensuring the players are paid this week, as agreed, but it will likely be at the expense of administration staff.

Sources revealed the second Test, due to start next Tuesday, was "99% confirmed," for Harare Sports Club on Tuesday evening and that the groundstaff and match referee all agreed to that. But the switch was announced over the loudspeaker at Harare Sports Club, where the first Test was being played, to loud cheers. The official reason given was that Queens Club was "not in a condition to host the Test". That means the entire Pakistan series, consisting of two Twenty20s, three ODIs and two Tests will be staged on the same ground and ZC would save close to US$50,000 on travel costs and hotel fees in the process.

Most of the Zimbabwe players are based in Harare, which would mean they could continue to stay at home, rather than in paid accommodation in Bulawayo. The money required to drive them and the television crew down would also be saved.

"We enjoy playing here in Harare. The conditions are good for both the batsmen and the bowlers. It's a good move and the guys are happy," batsman Malcolm Waller said after the second day's play of the first Test.

The only loser in such a situation would be Bulawayo's Queens Club, which has not seen a Test match since 2011, when New Zealand beat Zimbabwe there. The country has hosted three Tests since then, including the current one against Pakistan, all at the Harare Sports Club. Bulawayo has recently made attempts to create a more lively pitch, relaying the clay on three surfaces on the square but they will have to wait, perhaps until next year to try them out.

Zimbabwe's other proposed incoming tour was the one by Sri Lanka next month, comprising two Tests, three ODIs and two Twenty20s, but ZC have requested this be postponed. Sri Lanka Cricket confirmed they received an email from ZC citing "unavoidable circumstances" have led to them seeking alternative dates for the series. ESPNcricinfo has since learned ZC are considering proposing a shortened tour of only five T20s to Sri Lanka but the SLC have not had communication to that effect.

Zimbabwe's ability to host more international cricket in 2013 will depend heavily on the cost of organisation. A severe cash-flow problem has affected the union through the year and it seems unlikely to be solved soon. In April, players threatened to strike during the series against Bangladesh because those who were not on central contracts were offered allowances which they deemed unsatisfactory. Since then, the threats have intensified.

Before the Pakistan series, the players formed a union - the first of its kind in a decade - and did not train in protest after not being paid. They gave ZC various ultimatums which put the possibility of the whole tour, then the third ODI and then the Test series at risk. Each time, they agreed to play after ZC promised payment.

Monies have still not been transferred and the players have set another deadline of Friday this week. They are adamant they will boycott the second Test if they do not receive their outstanding dues, which include salaries from July and August and match fees. While ZC have stated publicly that they are in talks with their banker, it has since been established they will struggle to meet the demand.

Their only solution has been to inform staff, apparently in an email, that they will not be paid salaries from August. Any available funds will then be paid to the players. ZC staff contracts expired at the end of August and the body is in negotiations to renew them but has not done so to date. Staff are still working, though, despite the uncertainty.

Steven Price is a freelance journalist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Syed Arbab on September 6, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    I wonder what @cricketicc is for? Just patronizing the strong boards like #BCCI, ECB, ACB Why not helping #Zimbabwe?

  • Graham on September 5, 2013, 19:49 GMT

    Indeed the fact that the board cannot afford Bulawayo hotel bills is the biggest indicator yet that the finances are dire, and yes I like everybody else agree that help is needed for Zimbabwe cricket, The ICC has done their bit by providing extra funds , over and above the obligations they have to all international cricket boards, therefore further help must be sought elsewhere , the problem is who is willing to provide funds to an obviously mis managed cricket board.? Where are the extra ICC funds? The players on the field now coached by Waller and Flower are providing international standard performances, but the board cannot pay for this.

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    All the countries who are playing cricket and ICC should support Zimbabwe Cricket to surpass their financial problems they are facing now, there are no limits for talent as we are seeing it , now they need some money to take care of the CRICKET there, Situation is pathetic as they are planning to use the same venue to save expenses. i have some suggestions to raise Money

    ICC - Organize a fundraising Match between Ind vs PAk, Aus vs NZ in their respective countries and have the ticket amounts double and give the money to Zimbabwe Cricket as you are not going to give anything out of your pocket

    BCCI - I can ask you as i am too from India, announce that the coming Champions League Final ticket sales will be given to Zimbabwe Cricket , Its a peanut for you and it can meet at least a Couple of years expenses of Zimbabwe Cricket

    The talent what we are seeing now with Zimbabwe Cricket is immense So do support them

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2013, 15:44 GMT

    Where are all the TV rights fees and sponsorship money going?

  • Bludging on September 5, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    Zimbabwe Cricket's problems could be alleviated if all the other test match nations invited them to play. The host's traditionally pick up the tabs for costs.

    Most nations are boycotting Zimbabwe(Rhodesia) due to the regrettable political problems in Harare(Salisbury).

  • Cricinfouser on September 5, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    It is very sad to see that Zimbabwe Cricket is struggling to send their players to play matches even within the country. I feel Zimbabwe are a very strong team, but they need more exposure against the stronger teams. Then, we can surely expect the players to perform on a consistent basis. I feel ICC must take this matter into strong consideration because otherwise such talent will simply be wasted. ICC and the other richer boards like the BCCI etc. must provide financial support. Only the development of cricket in such countries (which have the potential to play) can help cricket become a global and a more exciting game. But, after all this fees issue..Zimbabwe are playing very well in the first test. HATS OFF!

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    Plesae do not spoil with game of cricket..they are very poor. .India has already suffered and pliz stop cricket in a poor contry like Zim, Kenya etc. U have any guts please ask china and USA to play and all European countries to play cricket.

  • I on September 5, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    The decision makes a lot of pragmatic sense, but I can't help feeling that the board isn't supporting its players in winning on the field though. I hope there is another pitch prepared for use in Harare - if they use the same one, they are simply handing the advantage to Pakistan, who have superior spinners. Groundskeepers need to get to work on getting the pitch ready for seam, which was what gave Zim the advantage early on the first day, but obviously they can't work while the current match is going on!

  • ZCF on September 5, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    It's great to see all of you agreeing that Zimbabwe could do with all the help. Ironically its own supporters like @grahaam here want no such thing. And there are many more like him. The majority like myself look forward to the time when Eng&Aus send their sides as well so we can cash in some more. Unfortunately all Aus can do is a token gesture sending their A sides at Zim's cost instead, while Eng simply turn a blind eye. Eng are like @grahaam, they consider Zim to be led by a despot they dislike and want removed so until then they wish more woe on Zim. Meanwhile the majority within the land, neighbouring countries and honest friendly states continue to give him an overwhelming vote of confidence. I know you hate the fact that Zim were given that fund by the ICC @grahaam, but for your information, among other things Zim have revived the Academy that Vermeulen burnt down & those funds are developing future stars likes Kasuza&Musoko, secondly it will be used for the u19 side's costs.

  • dexter on September 4, 2013, 18:54 GMT

    The issues that are surrounding this wonderful game are just sooooo depressing to the cricket loving fan, the game has no vision for the future, it is so disorganized what direction is it heading in. So many boards struggling financially, somebody pleaseeeeee lend a helping hand to keep this great sport alive, out with the old and in with the new, new marketing strategies, day night test matches, a point system in test are some of the things that are urgently needed and these financially strapped nations need to not wait on the bigger nations to start everything all the time, play the next test a day, night game and try to get some fans into the stands that way they may make some money, most of the people that can pay to get in the game are at work during the day start the game in the evening and end promptly at 10 pm at night, start running some aggressive ads on TV to pump the people up and see what result you get. Its worth a try.