By Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe national cricket team’s tour to Ireland next month is set to go ahead after Cricket Ireland chairman Ross McCollum reportedly secured funding from the International Cricket Council (ICC) to ensure the tour goes ahead.
Reports in Ireland last week had suggested that the tour, which involves three one-day internationals and three T20 internationals to be played in Stormont and Bready from July 1-14, was in doubt amid indications that Ireland could not afford to stage the matches.
Cricket Ireland reportedly suffered losses from last month’s one-off one-day international against England and the Tri-Series with West Indies and Bangladesh.
Ticket sales during the Windies and Bangladesh matches were disappointing but that was compounded by Cricket Ireland being victims of an organised internet scam, which affected around half-a-dozen companies in Dublin over the last six months, taking out hundreds of thousands of euros.
McCollum however told the Belfast Telegraph on Monday that he had to go cap in hand to the ICC, the world’s governing body, asking for an extra US$500,000 on top of its bi-annual contributions in order to make the Zimbabwe tour a reality.
“This was a one-off payment from ICC not included in our fees,” McCollum told The Belfast Telegraph.
“We had a six-figure hole to replace because of the fraud and lack of (spectator) support at the internationals and the only way to do that was to look at the possibility of cancelling the Zimbabwe tour which is going to cost half a million, with both men’s and women’s teams coming.
“So I approached ICC and they agreed to release some of their Full Member funding from a reputational point of view for both ourselves and themselves which wouldn’t have been great (if the tour had not gone ahead).
“It’s quite simple if you do not have enough money in the account you have to act and if we hadn’t got assistance from ICC, the Zimbabwe tour would have been called off.”
The ODIs against Zimbabwe are at Bready on July 1 and Stormont on July 4 and 7, with a T20 series to follow, the first game in Belfast on July 10 and the remaining two back at Bready on July 12 and 14.
The tour against Ireland would be Zimbabwe’s first international engagement since hosting minnows United Arab Emirates for a four-match One Day International (ODI) series in Harare two months ago.
Zimbabwe is also scheduled to tour Netherlands for another limited overs series after their tour of Ireland.