BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) managing director Givemore Makoni believes the future of local cricket is very bright as the local cricket governing body has created a conducive environment for players to play to their fullest potential and excel in international cricket.
ZC has quietly made significant strides over the last few years, moving from the brink of insolvency to a debt-free position and solid financial footing, signalling a brighter future for the game in the country.
One of the individuals who has played a central role in this development is Makoni, who was appointed ZC’s substantive MD in December, 2020 after having held the same role in an acting capacity since September 2018.
After assuming the reins at a time when the future of cricket in Zimbabwe looked bleak, the passionate cricket administrator successfully spearheaded a restructuring exercise designed to address ZC’s financial problems.
Makoni was in the forefront of implementing the association’s debt resolution plan, which ultimately saw ZC paying off legacy debts amounting to US$27 million.
The repaid amounts that had been stifling the game’s progress included the US$6 million obligation to the ICC as well as the loans worth up to $10 million that were housed under the Zimbabwe Asset Management Company.
“When we took over we had a huge debt of around 27 million which we confronted and came up with a structure of clearing the debt. Obviously with the help of the ICC and I can safely say we are now debt free and we are now operating within our means and the future looks very bright,” Makoni said in an interview with StandardSport.
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Makoni says the association’s solid financial footing after extinguishing the legacy debt has allowed his ZC to invest in the revival of the country’s once vibrant domestic cricket structure.
ZC launched an elite national club competition, the National Premier League two years ago, as well as two women’s inter-provincial tournaments, the Fifty50 Challenge and the Women’s T20 Competition which is running concurrently with the men’s tourney.
The restructuring of the domestic cricket scene has resulted in local players both male and female receiving more game time, which has ultimately led to improved performances at national team level.
“Because we have ensured that we are in sound financial footing what is left for us is to ensure that we play more cricket. This season a young player who has played all the first class games has played an average of 20 innings; this is besides the regional games that we have also introduced when we took over. So there is plenty of cricket, its exciting times especially for the players, they are in a good space. Their salaries and match fees are up to date apart from the recent tours and that is really positive,” Makoni said.
The positive energy from the boardroom appears to be extending to the field of play as the Chevrons starting the year on a positive note after picking some valuable ICC World Cup Super League points in Sri Lanka.
Although Zimbabwe lost the series against Sri Lanka 2-1 the Lalchand Rajput-coached side put on a very good show and where unlucky not to have won the series. “I can’t say I’m happy with the recent results, but we have done fairly well.
“There are glimpses and signs of good performances coming from the boys, but we want them to do more, that’s both the men and women’s teams. I was excited when we won points in Sri Lanka, where we should have won the series, we also picked valuable points in Pakistan, and those are all good signs. We have the ingredients to now compete at the highest level,” he said.
Makoni believes after investment in revamping the domestic structure even during the Covid-19 pandemic, they are confident that positive results will start coming for both men and women’s teams.
“We have dealt with the governance and financial structure while the cricket structure is work in progress. You will notice that we have revamped the national teams’ technical structures; we have tried to bring in new people for both our men and women’s teams as well as the selection panels. The focus is now on cricket and getting results.
He added: “We are not interested in competing and losing we want to ensure that we accumulate enough points. On the administration side, we want to make sure that in the next three years the job in Zimbabwe Cricket is going to be the most sought after job, secondly the team is going to excel and the third thing is we are going to be qualifying for the major tournaments.”
Makoni has been involved in cricket for over three decades, first rising to national prominence when he in 1990 co-founded Takashinga Cricket Club, Zimbabwe’s first black cricket club that has produced several international players. The seasoned cricket administrator also played club cricket in Zimbabwe and England, before venturing into administration.