Afghanistan tour called off


AFGHANISTAN’S planned tour of Zimbabwe which had been slated for the end of the month has been cancelled “because of the demands of the domestic season”, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) said yesterday.


The series was expected to help both teams prepare for the International Cricket Council World (ICC) World Twenty20 (T20) tournament to be held in Bangladesh in March.

“Because of the demands of the domestic season, we are unable to host Afghanistan,” ZC’s media and communications manager Lovemore Banda said.

ZC had initially expressed interest in hosting the Asians after the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s chief executive Noor Mohammad Murad said the rising cricket nation had approached Zimbabwe for a one-day series.

“Indeed, we are exploring the possibility of Afghanistan touring Zimbabwe,” ZC told sister paper NewsDay Sport in October last year.

“Zimbabwe Cricket would welcome the tour for two reasons. One it would come in as part of our preparations for the ICC T20 tournament in Bangladesh early next year.

“Secondly, as a full member of the ICC, we are fully behind the organisation’s objective of growing the game globally through tours between the FMCs and the associates such as Afghanistan.”

ZC is currently facing a crippling financial crisis which resulted in players boycotting domestic matches in December due non-payment of salaries and match fees, stretching overs several months.

The players, who are yet to receive their dues, have vowed not to take part in any matches until they receive their dues raising fears that ZC could have failed to raise a team if the Afghanistan tour went ahead as planned.

The cancellation of the tour will come as a huge blow for Zimbabwe, who are now left without any competitive matches before the ICC World T20.

Last week ZC also postponed the domestic T20 tournament which was supposed to be held this month to give selectors an opportunity to assess players in the shorter format of the game ahead of the global showcase.

While Zimbabwe will have no international exposure before the ICC World T20, Afghanistan were given a lifeline after being confirmed as the fifth team in the Asia Cup 2014.

Afghanistan will join Asia’s four Test nations — India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — in the 50-over tournament scheduled for Dhaka from February 25 to March 7.