As news of the ICC decision regarding the finances of Zimbabwe Cricket filtered through to the cricket fraternity, the general reaction was one of anger but not surprise. "The ICC has done nothing of any substance to help us for the last five years," one former administrator said. "None of us expected anything other than another messy botch this time."
Two years of investigations and rumour was summed up in a brief statement from the ICC in the early evening which raised more questions than answers. "In its review of the ICC audit committee report, the ICC board accepted that the KPMG report had found no evidence of criminality and that no individuals had gained financially. The board noted, however, that the report highlighted serious financial irregularities. ZC reported to the ICC board that it had taken substantial remedial action to correct these irregularities and would continue to do so."
One former Test played laughed loudly when he read the decision. "So, there are 'serious financial irregularities' but nobody is to blame and, in effect, the ICC are saying that they don't really matter. These guys just don't want to know the truth and don't care what's happening out here. It suits them to pretend all's well and that's just what they do."
One of Zimbabwe most senior and respected former board officials said he was "appalled" at the news. "What are these serious financial irregularities. We need to know, and if nobody has been unfairly enriched then were have the funds gone to, as for sure there is no development apparent in the country.
"We need to see the financial accounts for 2005 and 2006 and surely we must also see the 2007 accounts shortly ... these statements can't be allowed to be kept away from the public eye. ZC has a responsibility to the public to produce audited financial statements. The whole thing stinks and what respect I had for the ICC has gone."
Another former long-standing administrator and board member, who had been pestering the ICC to act long before it finally stepped in and demanded an independent audit last June, said he was not "remotely surprised" by the outcome. "These people [Zimbabwe Cricket] have had ages to cleanse the books. We've been telling the ICC about problems for years and they just didn't want to know. It's been their approach to the mess here all along.
"I'd love to know what sort of irregularities require 'substantial remedial action to correct' and yet allow the head of the board to carry on regardless. This was our last chance to get rid of people who have bankrupted the game and start anew ... we have been let down and all because it benefits some other countries to have Zimbabwe on their side."
A journalist who has been following Zimbabwe cricket for years said: "If no one benefited then where is the money going, because it is certainly not going towards the development of the game, it is not going towards maintaining structures and facilities. The game is dying at the grassroots level. The bulk of the money that ZC gets from the ICC is not being spent on the betterment of the game."
Another recently-retired national player was equally bemused. "Why can't ZC explain their behaviour? I can't believe this has happened. I have no faith in the ICC any more."
Someone who worked closely with the board pointed out that those inside the country were in the dark because of the lack of any accounts, and serious questions were raised when the last set were published. "My question is why did [Peter] Chingoka refuse to give us answers to our legitimate queries at the time? Instead he chose to use his political clout to disband the administration of cricket, to eventually replace it with a bunch of people, who in the majority, had never been seen anywhere near the administration of the sport. Now, some three years later, ZC has had plenty of time to rectify the accounts."
One provincial administrator pointed out that while it is rumoured that Chingoka's defence to the ICC was that using overseas accounts and double accounting was the only way to survive inside Zimbabwe, that might well have made the local authorities sit up and take notice.
"ZC has already been fined for breaches of forex regulations, and the powers that be don't like people depriving them of cash, especially when it's in dollars," he said. "It will be worth watching what happens next. If the authorities pounce then Chingoka and others will be in hot water. If they don't, then all the rumours of him and his board having close links to the Mugabe government will be confirmed for all too see. His short-term win might come at a cost."