Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
EXACTLY 14 months after playing their last Test match, Zimbabwe are finally set to break the ice when they host Sri Lanka next month.
The Chevrons, who are the only Test playing nation that did not feature in the longer format of the game this year, will play two Tests against the Islanders, according to the International Cricket Council’s Future Tours Programme.
This will be Zimbabwe’s first major assignment following the recent lifting of a three-month ban by the ICC.
Zimbabwe Cricket board chairman, Tavengwa Mukuhlani, yesterday said they have been busy picking up the pieces following the crippling ICC sanctions and were looking forward to the future with hope.
“I can confirm the series is on and it’s most likely to start around mid-January. Management is currently involved in discussions with all the relevant stakeholders,” said Mukuhlani.
Zimbabwe were left in disarray after the ICC froze funding of the domestic game and excluded the national teams from international fixtures under the auspices of the world cricket governing body.
According to the original ICC Future Tours Programme, Zimbabwe were scheduled to play, at least, six Test matches this year against Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan and West Indies.
But the programme was affected by external factors, which also included financial challenges.
The Chevrons have played in other formats of the game this year but their last Test was in November 2018 in Bangladesh where they fought for a 1-1 series stalemate.
The domestic league is not likely to begin this year because of the funding matrix.
ZC rely on the funds from the ICC to bankroll their operations, including the domestic game, but things are yet to normalise since the ban.
“Our domestic league has been delayed by lack of funding. Remember, all our funds from ICC had been stopped and right now we are working on the modalities to have the funds released.
“We started with the salaries and the salaries are now in and we are now moving to the programmes,” said Mukuhlani.
ZC employees have not been paid their monthly salaries since June.
The ICC withheld funds when Zimbabwe’s membership was suspended in July after the world cricket governing body had said the action taken by the Sports and Recreation Commission to suspend the ZC board in June amounted to government interference in the administration of the sport.
And, as relations are beginning to normalise, the funds for the salaries from June to October, were wired into the ZC accounts recently.
The Chevrons are set to have a busy programme in 2020.
After hosting Sri Lanka in January, they have a tour of Bangladesh in March where they are set to play one Test and five T20Is under the FTP.
The following month they host Ireland, again for one Test and five T20I games and then tour Australia for three ODIs in June.
They are then scheduled to host India in a three-match One Day International series in August and Netherlands the following month for three ODIs. A tour to Sri Lanka for three ODIs and two T20Is follow in October.