India's July tour to Zimbabwe 'on hold'
India have put their ODI tour to Zimbabwe that was scheduled for July "on hold". A BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo that the "fatigue factor", which will follow the Champions Trophy and a tri-series in the West Indies between June 28 to July 11, was the reason for the board's decision to put the series on ice.
The Future Tours Programme had pencilled in three ODIs to be hosted in Zimbabwe but there was talk of that being extended to five. The BCCI has given an assurance it will "respect" its commitment to Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) and intends for India to travel there at some stage, but it has not set a deadline for taking a call on when to reschedule.
Both ZC and broadcasters SuperSport are unaware of the proposed postponement. Zimbabwe's cricketers are under the impression they will start training to compete against India in two weeks' time, having just completed what Brendan Taylor called a "satisfactory" series against Bangladesh, while a spokesperson for the television production told ESPNcricinfo they had not heard about any reschedule and are "due to host broadcast and transmit the series".
An India no-show will have wide-ranging consequences for Zimbabwean cricket, most notably financially. ZC is running on close to empty and is in severe debt. Match fees to some players are still outstanding and there has been no clarity on the scheme for funding franchise cricket next summer.
The cost of hosting Bangladesh in April and early May will not have helped that situation. There are also scheduled tours by Pakistan in August and Sri Lanka in October, for which they will likely make a loss.
Some of the money could have been recovered by the big drawcard of India because of the substantial television rights fees they bring with them. It could also have helped ZC clear some of their outstanding bills. One of them is some of the commentators who worked on the Bangladesh series. They were not paid by ZC at the time but told they would be reimbursed after the India series.
Another cost they could have thought of covering is putting up the floodlights at Harare Sports Club, something that has been in the works for close to three years. The pylons have stood bare for several years while the lighting units were stuck at customs because ZC was unable to pay the money for their release. They were due to go on auction but ZC were able to secure them before that. During the second Test against Bangladesh they arrived at the ground but there is still no timeline for when they will go up. A source close to ZC estimates it will cost in the region of US$250,000 to install them. ZC will also need to secure a power source if they hope to play day-night cricket.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo