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Zimbabwe turmoil continues as women's tour of Ireland cancelled

Logistical and financial issues have been cited as reasons, although the parallel men's tour of Ireland will go ahead as planned

Liam Brickhill
Liam Brickhill
File photo - Ousted Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani

File photo - Ousted chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani  •  Zimbabwe Cricket

The Zimbabwe women team have pulled out of their tour of Ireland, citing funding and logistical issues. They were due to arrive in Ireland on Sunday ahead of a one-day and T20 series double-header with the men's side, who are already in Ireland, but did not travel. The ongoing impasse between Zimbabwe's Sports and Recreation Commission (ZSRC) and the suspended Zimbabwe Cricket board appears to be the cause of the cancellation.
"We received correspondence late this afternoon from Zimbabwe Cricket in which we were informed that due to a funding issue, Zimbabwe Cricket will not be sending their women's team to Ireland," Cricket Ireland (CI) chief executive Warren Deutrom said in a statement.
"With the team due to arrive on Sunday, there is clearly no time to find an alternative and, after urgent consultation with the ICC to seek clarification, we regret to confirm the women's tour has been cancelled. This will not, however, impact upon the men's tour which will proceed as scheduled," Deutrom added.
The T20 part of the series was supposed to have provided vital preparation for the upcoming ICC Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier, for both Ireland and Zimbabwe, and CI have been left scrambling for an alternative. "We will look into alternative arrangements so our senior women's team will not be completely disadvantaged by these disappointing circumstances," Deutrom said.
The cancellation of the women's tour is yet another chapter of the turmoil that has engulfed Zimbabwean cricket since the SRC, who are the governing body of all sporting associations in Zimbabwe, suspended the Tavengwa Mukuhlani-led ZC board and installed an interim committee in their place.
The SRC has alleged that the suspended officials have sought to intimidate the remaining ZC staff into vacating their roles, and ZC's offices have been virtually empty over the past week.
While the SRC claim to be acting in the best interests of cricket in the country, the suspension and subsequent power struggle are threatening to completely disrupt the sport and Zimbabwe are in danger of losing their ICC membership. Both the former and current ZC leadership are understood to be in contact with the ICC, who are yet to comment on the matter.
"It is not without coincidence that staff continue not to return to work despite clear messages from both the SRC and the interim committee that they should do so," SRC board chairman Gerald Mlotshwa said earlier this week. "The absence from work on Monday has severely compromised the ladies (team) preparations for their tour of Ireland.
"There continues to be a clear and deliberate effort to sabotage Zimbabwe Cricket by some of the suspended ZC officials. A formal police report has now been made regarding these shenanigans. It appears that every effort is being made to frustrate an inquiry into the financial affairs of Zimbabwe Cricket, key amongst these issues being the assessment of a debit of some US$2.8 million on ZC's account with a local banking institution with historical ties to it.
"The police have been alerted to this issue as well, as it is clear that no co-operation will be forthcoming from those with knowledge of the details and reasons for this historical debit," said Mlotshwa.

Liam Brickhill is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent