The latest fallout of Zimbabwe Cricket's financials troubles is that there is uncertainly over the start of the domestic season. The season was originally slotted to start in November, as Zimbabwe were supposed to host Sri Lanka in October and later sought a postponement, but there are doubts over the start due to financial difficulties. ZC is yet to secure sponsorship for the various domestic series, though the board remains confident the season will begin in November.
Gary Brent, the Mountaineers coach, confirmed to the World Cricket Badger website that the franchise was handed a calendar which says the season is scheduled begin on November 9, but the start has not been confirmed yet. The financial uncertainty is making preparations in the lead-up to the season very difficult, he said.
"We normally start playing in September, but we knew we were not going to get underway then," Brent said. "We've been given a proposed calendar that starts with our first game on 9 November, with the one-day competition starting first until December time, although nothing has been confirmed yet. It's difficult, it's challenging and it's quite exciting in a way as it keeps everyone on their toes."
In the wake of the financial challenges the board is facing, the domestic season started slightly late in 2011-12 too, but took off on time, in September, last year. Talking about this year's schedule, ZC said in a statement: "We really want to remain faithful to the three formats of the game even though we acknowledge the financial difficulties we are facing. When the season begins in mid-November fans are likely to be treated to some one-dayers before the T20 competition starts just before the tour of Bangladesh sometime around February next year".
Lack of sponsors and funds have made it tough for the five franchises to offer contracts to players for the upcoming season, not giving them enough scope to plan. "We're trying to organise and get new players in, but you can't talk to anybody because you can't offer them anything," Brent said. "Budgets haven't been finalised, we don't know if we can have overseas players, so we can't really plan much. It's a hard juggling act at the moment. You try and speak to players and they ask what we can offer them and the answer is, 'I can't offer you anything until I know'."
Compared to the seven-month contracts that franchises usually offer to players, this season "will probably" see six-month contracts, Brent said, as those contracts terminate at the end of every season and players have the option of staying with the same franchise or signing a new contract the following season.
"Our first commitment will definitely be to the players that we've had already" Brent stated. "We have a very strong side and our first port of call is to keep those guys. I don't want them moving and I'm hoping they are happy with us."