ZIMBABWE’S revival on the field looks set to be bolstered by the return of at least one of their former star players, with talks between Zimbabwe Cricket and county duo Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis at an advanced stage.
While Zimbabwe’s team took impressive strides forward during their tour of Sri Lanka, that has been mirrored on the administration front where gains made over the past few months could be solidified during a visit by ICC chairman Shashank Manohar next month.
Manohar is due to meet with officials from the Zimbabwe government as he seeks the assurances necessary for the ICC to rubber stamp Zimbabwe’s hosting of next year’s World Cup qualifiers.
Cricbuzz understands that the ICC conditionally awarded the tournament to Zimbabwe at its annual conference last month, choosing the country over the United Arab Emirates and a joint bid from Ireland and Scotland.
Hosting the tournament would be a big boost to Zimbabwe’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in 2019, but having Taylor and Jarvis available would be even more significant.
Fast bowler Jarvis played eight Tests and 24 One-Day Internationals for Zimbabwe before joining Lancashire on a Kolpak deal in 2013, while Taylor used the same route to sign for Nottinghamshire after the 2015 World Cup.Both players were unhappy with the way that the game was being administered in Zimbabwe when they left, but improved governance under the tenure of ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani has created confidence that better days are ahead.
The appointments of former captains Heath Streak and Tatenda Taibu to key positions have brought stability to the playing group, while former ICC chief financial officer Faisal Hasnain has signed on as ZC managing director. Taylor and Jarvis still view Zimbabwe as their home and would prefer to base their family lives in the country, making a return attractive so long as there is long-term financial security.
To that end both players have requested multi-year contracts. Although ZC is in the habit of only awarding annual contracts to its players, it is willing to make an exception in this case since it acknowledges the stakes are high – if either player was to give up their Kolpak status, they would not be able to regain it. Additionally, both Taylor (31) and Jarvis (28) are still relatively young.Advertisement
The ICC’s new revenue distribution model, which was confirmed at its annual conference, has played a significant role. Even though it receives less than the other full members, the fact that ZC will pocket around $20m more than it would have under the Big Three model has allowed it to compete with the wages that Taylor and Jarvis have been earning in county cricket.
It is understood that ZC’s cash flow is still tight though, and so it may not be able to afford both players right away. Yet there is genuine confidence that Taylor could be back in Zimbabwe’s batting line-up for their next assignment, a two-Test series against the West Indies in November. Hampshire’s 34-year-old batsman Sean Ervine is also on ZC’s radar but no formal talks have taken place.
ZC’s liquidity issues could be eased if it secures the loan that would allow it to clear its current debts of around $20m. The majority of that money has been borrowed from local banks at interest rates of more than 20 per cent, meaning that a crippling portion of ZC’s income over the past five years has been gobbled up by interest repayments. An ICC loan at international interest rates would allow ZC to climb out of its debt hole, and the prospect will be discussed further with Manohar during his visit.
Manohar will seek assurances from the Zimbabwe government that, among other things, the necessary tax exemptions can be put in place for the World Cup qualifiers. He will also travel to Victoria Falls to determine its suitability for the ICC’s annual conference, after ZC bid to host the event in 2018.