Editorial comment: This is more than cricket

08 Mar, 2023 - 00:03 0 Views
Editorial comment: This is more than cricket


THREE years ago, Derbyshire and Durham became the first major English sides to tour Zimbabwe, ending a 23-year wait for these county sides.

Worcestershire had been the last English county side to tour this country in 1997.

The arrival of Derbyshire and Durham was welcomed by Zimbabwe Cricket authorities as a major boost for both the game and the country.

“The magnitude and importance of their visit cannot be overemphasised,” said ZC director of cricket, Hamilton Masakadza.

“While our players will learn big lessons and gain invaluable experience from playing against such top opposition, we believe this marks the beginning of a new chapter that will hopefully see more English county teams touring Zimbabwe as that will go a long way in preparing our players for the rigours of high-level and international cricket.”

Unfortunately, the tour by both Derbyshire and Durham had to be cut short following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Three years later, two other English county sides – Durham and Glamorgan – are in this country as part of their pre-season preparations.

This is HUGE for our country because, more than the cricket, this is about our profile as a nation and the positive signals that this sends around the world.

It’s important to recall that there was a time, not so long ago, when such a visit to this country would have been hijacked by politicians, intent to use the game as a pawn, in their shadowy agenda.

In February 2003, England pulled out of their World Cup fixture against Zimbabwe, which was scheduled to take place at Harare Sports Club.

The English cricketers claimed they were threatened by a shadowy group, which called itself, “Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe,” not to fulfil the fixture.

The shadowy group, it turned out, was just a collection of some political activists who felt that if England played in Harare, it would shatter their lies that Zimbabwe was no longer a safe country, for such high-profile national teams, to tour.

 “The ECB cited safety concerns for the players as their reason for not fulfilling that commitment,” the then ICC chief executive, Malcolm Speed, told a media conference.

“The ICC gave a direction to the ECB to comply and play the match in Zimbabwe, but the ECB said that it does not believe that direction is reasonable.”

The relationship between England and Zimbabwe, when it comes to cricket, continued to deteriorate and, in 2007, ZC officials were forced to pull the Chevrons from the 2009 World Twenty20 tournament in England.

The standoff started when it was revealed some British politicians were not happy with the Chevrons being granted visas to feature in the tournament.

However, it’s refreshing to note that many of the barriers, which used to be erected whenever a possibility arose that English teams could play their Zimbabwean counterparts on the cricket field, appear to have fallen by the wayside.

The English county sides are showing the world that it’s safe to play in this country and the lies, which the politicians were selling to the globe, are finally being exposed.

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