Politicisation of the sport,exodus of players,corruption and losing the Test status Zimbabwe cricket has seen it all in the last one decade. However,if chief selector Kenyon Ziehl is to be believed,the game is spluttering back to life there.
It (the state of cricket) is a lot better now. Over the last four-five years,we have got a lot of bad press. But under the new unity government,the situation is changing. Cricket is benefiting from the development, Ziehl,whos accompanying the Zimbabwe XI participating in the Deodhar Trophy,told The Indian Express.
The slide started after the Robert Mugabe regimes policies triggered a wave of mass emigration in the disgruntled white population,sweeping away with it key players of its largely white team such as Andy Flower. Later,even the likes of Henry Olonga jumped off the ship,citing dismal human rights record and the death of democracy in the country. Ziehl,however,insists that the tide has reversed now.
Players like Andy Waller,Charles Coventry,Mark Vermeulen,who had left,have returned home. Waller is involved in a coaching project and the other two are playing. Others are also making enquiries. And,mind you,they are all white players.
For that matter,Im a white man and Im not scared of living in my country, he said.
And while they arent flush with funds,theres enough to maintain a decent talent pool. We now have 80 players who are centrally contracted, said Ziehl.
In a country grappling with hyperinflation,the contract is lure enough to latch on to the sport.
The top 12-15 players are getting enough money to make a living out of cricket. The money that we have got from the ICC has been properly allocated. We have a high-performance centre for the youngsters at Harare. And the kids know if they are roped in by the board,they have a safe future, he said.