Zimbabwe must learn from Kenya

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Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed in action during the first T20 cricket match between Pakistan and hosts Zimbabwe as part of a tri-series including Australia at Harare Sports Club, on July 1, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA

ZIMBABWE has a lot to learn from Kenya when it comes to cricket, especially the management of the game.
Pundits have actually warned on several occasions that Zimbabwe may go the Kenyan way.
South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya are the three most prominent cricket playing nations in Africa.
However, what befell Kenya seems to be now happening in Zimbabwe.
Players constantly going on strike due to bad governance crippled the game in Kenya.
Cricket in Kenya was introduced in the 1890s during colonisation.
After decades, and in 1996 in particular, the East African country began to rise to prominence.
Although they attracted much attention and scored successes, Kenya did not get Test status. However, during their golden years, from 1996 to around 2005, Kenya made headlines after beating West Indies at the 1996 World Cup hosted by Pakistan and India after winning by 73 runs.
Kenya had the likes of Maurice Odumbe – later appointed national team coach of Kenya — Steve Tikolo and Thomas Odoyo, among others.
In the same year, 1996, Kenya got One Day International (ODI) status.
Nations like Zimbabwe, India, Canada, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were some of the victims of Kenya’s golden era in cricket.
The major highlight was at the 2003 World Cup in England when they made history, becoming the first non-Test playing nation to reach the Super Six stage.
After that, a series of matches ensued, as the world saw another powerhouse rising in Africa after South Africa and Zimbabwe.
A quadrangular tournament was held at Sharjah Cricket Association in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2003 where Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe together with Kenya participated.
Kenya lost all the matches after failing to maintain their World Cup form.
After that, they were invited to the Carib Beer Cup in West Indies in 2004 where they failed to make an impact and until 2005, Kenya only played two ODIs against India and Pakistan.
That was the beginning of thae end of Kenyan cricket.
In August 2004, Odumba was suspended for match-fixing.
Player protests began to haunt the once promising national team.
Off-field, management of the game adversely affected the team’s performance and all the decade-long gains were eroded such that by 2005, all sponsors had deserted the gentlemen’s game.
To date, Kenya is trying to bring back the glamour but it seems they still have a long way to go.
Ironically, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) could be walking on thin ice and may find themselves in Kenya’s situation.
It starts with the players’ discontent.
Several players are owed money by ZC and some of their dues date back to last year (the Sri Lanka tour), while other players have opted out of the team.
Some of the Chevrons, as they are affectionately known, were promised their dues by July 25 but nothing has materialised.
ZC earlier promised players they would receive their dues by July 25, anticipating a financial assistance package from the world cricket governing body International Cricket Council (ICC).
However, the ICC highlighted that the financial assistance would be conditional, in the process, throwing ZC in a quandary.
ZC is already reeling from a US$18 million debt from various creditors and without the help of ICC, no other solution is in place for the payment of players.
Players like Brendan Taylor, Sikanda Raza Butt, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams and Graeme Cremer did not make themselves available for selection for the recently held Twenty20 Tri Series involving Pakistan, Australia and Zimbabwe and the five ODIs against Pakistan.
It was a disaster for the Chevrons as they lost in the Tri Series.
The story continued in the five ODIs as Pakistan whitewashed Zimbabwe.
With the seeds of discontent continuing to grow within the players, ZC might be found with fringe players available for selection in the coming assignments.
Next month, Zimbabwe tour South Africa for limited overs matches.
Preparations for the coming tour should start and it is not known yet whether Taylor and others will turn out for camp.
With the 5-0 whitewash at the hands of Pakistan, Zimbabwe needs more experienced players to avoid another catastrophe across the Limpopo.
Currently, Zimbabwe struggles to secure fixtures and can go up to six months without playing a match.
At times, it’s the lack of competitiveness of the Chevrons that causes other nations to shun playing them.
Zimbabwe are at their weakest, posting one of the lowest totals in ODIs and with the prevailing situation, the future looks bleak for the team.
It’s high time administrators address the plight of the players and restore the Chevrons legacy as a continental powerhouse.
Administrators killed the game in Kenya.
The same must not happen in Zimbabwe!

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