BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE cricket faces the prospect of yet another exodus of experienced players with several national cricketers facing the grim prospect of prematurely ending their international careers following the International Cricket Council (ICC)’s decision to suspend the country from all forms of the game.
The ICC on Thursday suspended the domestic game’s governing body, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC), with immediate effect for violating the global body’s constitution, which doesn’t allow any government interference in the sport after the recent suspension of the ZC board by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).
Citing political interference from the government, the ICC, after an annual meeting in London, decided to freeze funding to ZC and representative teams from
the country will not be allowed to participate in any ICC events.
ICC chairman Shashank Manohar said what happened in Zimbabwe was a “serious breach” of the ICC constitution.
“We do not take the decision to suspend a member lightly, but we must keep our sport free from political interference. What has happened in Zimbabwe was a
serious breach of the ICC constitution and we cannot allow it to continue unchecked. The ICC wants cricket to continue in Zimbabwe in accordance with the ICC
constitution,” ICC quoted Manohar as saying.
The decision has, however, left local cricket stars in a lurch and unsure of their immediate future with most of the national cricket team players, who were
recently in Ireland for a limited-overs series, taking to social media to vent their frustration and angst.
Most Zimbabwean cricketers were in support of the SRC’s suspension of the Tavengwa Mukuhlani-led ZC board and the appointment of an interim committee to run
the local game.
The first casualty of the ICC’s decision to suspend Zimbabwe with immediate effect is all-rounder Solomon Mire, who, a day after the crippling development,
announced his retirement from international cricket.
Mire’s statement on social media came hours after his team-mate Sikandar Raza spoke of the fear and insecurity gripping Zimbabwe’s cricketers following the ICC’s decision to withdraw funding for ZC and barring the Zimbabwean cricket team from participating at ICC events, such as the T20 World Cup qualifier in October.
Mire, who represented Zimbabwe in 47 ODIs, nine T20Is and two Test matches from 2014 to 2019, made his decision public on Instagram on Friday.
“It has been a week of emotional highs and lows in sport and sadly not a good one for Zimbabwe cricket, but just wanted to officially address everyone else,” wrote Mire.
“I informed the players and tech staff of my decision at the end of the recent tour and wanted to formally announce my decision to retire from Zimbabwe cricket in all formats with immediate effect. It is unfortunate and untimely, however, to leave under the current circumstances that are out of my control but I have decided to take a step in a new direction.”
Mire, who will turn 30 next month said playing for Zimbabwe was an honour.
“Representing my country at the highest level for me has been the highest honour and service I could ever give and I have been extremely privileged to have
been afforded the opportunity,” he posted.
“My short career has been a roller-coaster of highs and lows, stops and starts, frustrations and joys, but will be one I shall look upon and cherish for the
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I was lucky enough to experience and for that I would like to express my gratitude.”
Mire, who averaged 19.50 in Tests, 20.31 in ODIs and 31.62 in T20Is, saved a special mention for his fans.
In an earlier emotional tweet soon after the ICC announced its decision, Raza, who has played 12 Tests, 97 ODIs and 32 T20Is for the country, wrote how this
one decision could have an ill-effect on the lives and careers of so many people involved in the local game.
“How one decision has made a team, strangers. How one decision has made so many people unemployed. How one decision affects so many families. How one decision
has ended so many careers. Certainly not how I wanted to say goodbye to international cricket. @ICC”: Raza wrote on Twitter.
Brendan Taylor, who has turned out for Zimbabwe in 28 Tests, 193 ODIs and 34 T20Is, also took to Twitter to post a heartfelt note. “@ICC It’s heartbreaking to hear your verdict and suspend cricket in Zimbabwe. The @ZimbabweSrc has no government background yet our chairman is an MP? Hundreds of honest people, players, support staff, ground staff totally devoted to ZC out of a job, just like that,” the former captain wrote.