Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Blessing Muzarabani recently decided to bid Zimbabwe and his international career adieu in order to play cricket in England, but given the state of things in the African nation’s cricket board, can you really blame him?
The 21-year-old pace bowler signed a three-year Kolpak deal with Northamptonshire and seems pleased with his decision to move to England.
“I’ve come here to chase my dreams,” he said after the deal was announced. “I want to perform and achieve. I just can’t wait to get started.”
With financial problems having seriously dogged Zimbabwe Cricket over the past few years, this is not the first time talented Zimbabwean cricketers have decided to look to England in order to inject some stability into their cricketing careers.
Former captain Brendan Taylor and pace bowler Kyle Jarvis both opted to continue their careers in England after growing increasingly frustrated with the situation in their home nation.
Taylor signed with Nottinghamshire in March 2015, while Jarvis joined Lancashire in August 2013.
Surprisingly, in September last year, both Taylor and Jarvis left from their respective county sides in order to resurrect their international careers.
However, Taylor was greeted with a familiar situation shortly after his return to Zimbabwe as the country’s cricket board remained in serious debt and couldn’t pay the players.
To make matters worse, Taylor, along with Sikandar Raza, Graeme Cremer, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine, opted not to feature in the Twenty20 tri-series against Pakistan and Australia, or the five-match ODI series against Pakistan, due to the non-payment of salaries.
With the financial situation within Zimbabwe Cricket in dire straits, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has stepped in and seems set to lend a helping hand in alleviating the problem.
While their aid may be seen as a blessing on this occasion, Zimbabwe’s problems with paying players has been a reoccurring trend for a lengthy period of time.
Should the cycle continue going forward, there could be a mass exodus of Zimbabwean players looking to continue their careers elsewhere.
One such player who could potentially follow in Muzarabani’s footsteps is Raza.
Raza, who recently featured in the inaugural edition of the Global T20 Canada, was shocked and infuriated to uncover that he had not been offered a contract by the board.
While Zimbabwe Cricket have offered an explanation as to why Raza was not given a new contract, it still remains unclear what the 32-year-old all-rounder’s next move will be.
He recently took to Twitter to confirm that he had a productive meeting with officials from the board, but stopped short of saying whether the problem about his contract will be resolved.
Traveling back to Harare
I met with the Chairman of ZC to discuss the best way forward
I can happily say a lot of good things came out of the meeting and I am confident that this matter will be resolved sooner rather than later In sha Allah.
Thank you all for prayers &support pic.twitter.com/5m6JclTFwZ
— Sikandar Raza (@SRazaB24) September 9, 2018
Should it not, Raza could very well aim to continue his career playing county cricket in England, or even perhaps become a Twenty20 specialist and attempt to feature in as many domestic competitions around the world.
However, while Raza could very well go down that route in the near future if things don’t work out, an increasing number of players, including Taylor and Jarvis once again, could start considering the option if Zimbabwe Cricket don’t get their affairs in order and pay the players on time.
Despite this being the worst case scenario, it could become a frightening reality that creeps up on Zimbabwe Cricket if they don’t tread carefully and ensure their players are taken care of financially.
Feature written by Bimal Mirwani