ZC turns down Ireland

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Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has defended its decision to turn down an offer from Cricket Ireland for a tour later this year, citing the lack of a gap in their International Cricket Council (ICC)’s future tours programmes and the domestic calendar.

Ireland were hoping for return visit to the country following their tour in September last year for an ICC intercontinental match which ended in a draw, and a three- match ODI series which Zimbabwe won 2-1.

In a statement last night ZC’s managing director Ozias Bvute said: “It is very unfortunate that recent media reports aim to portray Zimbabwe as unwilling to play against Ireland and insinuate the reason is based on an attempt to ostracise them.”

“Zimbabwe has suffered greatly from the politics of exclusion and we would not wish that on any one. Sport is about participation and increasing the numbers that participate to allow for the sustainability of any given activity.”

“Recent media reports had linked Zimbabwe’s unwillingness to commit to the Ireland tour to the recent exclusion of affiliate nations like Ireland from the 2015 World Cup.

“Zimbabwe has a full international and domestic calendar this season and we are not obliged to play against Ireland. Our offer to arrange playing opportunities with them is spearheaded by nothing less than the spirit of sportsmanship and inclusion.

“With Australian and South African A sides, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Pakistan all having confirmed to tour Zimbabwe between June and November this year, there is simply no slot available to accommodate them in 2011,” said Bvute.

Bvute said the local cricket governing mother body was also going to prioritise the domestic franchise league which it hopes will help increase the player base which is very vital in Test cricket.

“That being said, it must be noted that the latter half of the year has been deliberately blocked for our domestic cricket as we endeavour to ensure that all our national players are able to turn out for their local franchise teams and they cannot do this if they are called to national duty.

“Our long-term strategy is to grow our domestic cricket and increase the spectatorship numbers for our local games. The people in Kwekwe, Mutare, Masvingo and Bulawayo will only support their franchises if they can expect to see players that they can identify. The greater the crowds the more likely the corporate world is to further support the game. It is our hope that in future, with these efforts, we will have a domestic competition that is in itself financially viable and sustainable,” Bvute added.

Following their recent exclusion from the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Ireland had hoped to play more matches against ICC full member nations as they have not yet come to terms with their exclusion.