Zimbabwe: Raza's Euro Slam Delight Tainted By Concerns Over His Chevrons

Sikandar Raza has revealed the Chevrons have resorted to calling each other, to try and find comfort, after they were barred from competitions by the International Cricket Council in a decision that has left the team "gutted, disappointed, frustrated, annoyed and confused."

The 33-year-old all-rounder has been drafted to play in the inaugural six-team Euro T20Slam next month, where he will share the stage with some of the globe's finest cricketers -- including England's World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan -- after being picked by the Amsterdam Knights.

Raza will play in the same Amsterdam Knights team with the likes of Aussie batsman, Shane Watson, Pakistan fast bowler, Hasan Ali, Windies speedster Alzarri Joseph and South African spinner Imran Tahir.

"Humbled to be part of the #AmsterdamKnights for the inaugural @et20s tournament. Looking forward to be sharing field with so many great cricketers and a great opportunity to learn from them," tweeted Raza. "Our squad looks absolutely lit. Can't wait to join you guys #EuroT20Slam."

The tournament will run from September 14-23.

Raza's deal with the Knights will not have any conflict with national team commitments as the Chevrons have been forced to pull out of the Tri-Series T20 International Series in Bangladesh in September, where they were scheduled to take on the hosts and Afghanistan, because of the ICC suspension.

While Raza has been celebrating his acquisition by the Knights, the all-rounder has not forgotten his international teammates who are set to bear the brunt of the ICC suspension.

And, in a wide-ranging interview with CricTracker, he revealed the Chevrons didn't expect the impasse between the Sports Commission and the Zimbabwe Cricket leaders would explode beyond the boardroom.

"Of course, not just Sikandar Raza, we're all gutted, disappointed, frustrated, annoyed and confused to be honest," he told CricTracker.

"Right now, we have so many questions and we have no answer to that. It is a very difficult phase we all are going through at the moment. All of our friends (have) been ringing each other for comfort. But, it has been difficult so far.

"Missing out on the (ICC Cricket) World Cup was quite tough. But, basically, we're suspended now and not knowing what we're gonna do, how we're gonna survive certainly is the lowest point. I don't think the emotions that we all are going through, I don't know what can be lower than this.

"If the suspension isn't lifted, until the next three months and we miss out of the T20 World Cup, I can assure you my plans will pretty much change. If I can't play the World Cup, and then we miss out on another one, we can't play the qualifiers and our cricket is still suspended, then I don't think I have a year in me just to wait for the ICC to change their decision."

Raza has featured in 97 ODIs, 32 T20Is and 12 Tests for Zimbabwe and the irony of it all is that the first casualty of the Chevrons' suspension will be the cancellation of a trip to Bangladesh where, in November last year, the team ended a 17-year wait for a Test victory away from home by powering to a 151-run victory over the Tigers in Sylhet.

The ICC called the win "one for the ages," as the Chevrons completed only their third Test victory on the road in more than a quarter-of-a-century.

Raza was key to that triumph as he took 3-41 in the Bangladesh second innings as the Tigers were blown out for 169.

That sensational result, coming against a background where the Chevrons had choked when failing to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup and a damaging dispute with former coach Heath Streak, in which the liquidation of Zimbabwe Cricket was mooted in the court battles that followed, shook the entire cricket world.

And, the best endorsement came from the ICC itself.

"Between Zimbabwe's last away Test win and this one, the landscape of cricket has changed dramatically," the ICC said in their live commentary of the game.

"It felt like they were left behind for a variety of reasons, but here they are, back with a bang. Now it's time to build on this victory.

"This is exactly the shot Zimbabwe Cricket was hoping for and they have done it on the back of an incredible performance from the bowlers."

But, eight months later, the Chevrons find themselves back in darkness and, the narrative, around the globe is now full of pessimism.

"We didn't see it coming. We genuinely thought, the worse come to worse, the ICC will say: "You know what? Send us players, match officials, the ground staff and whoever is working for Zimbabwe Cricket. We will pay them but you guys are under administration for the next three months," said Raza.

"We'll make sure and try and have fair elections and we will run Zimbabwe Cricket for the next three months until the next review"

"To be honest, we all are coming to terms with it (the suspension). It just feels like a nightmare. I think it is highly unfair for the ICC to ban us. Because, right now, we have two months pending salary and next three months we're suspended with no financial help.

"Basically, you've taken the livelihood of close to 200 players. And not only that -- it means there are 800-900 more people living off that salary. So, where do they go now for the next five months? I find that decision very harsh.

"I think ICC has done enough to support cricket in countries like Zimbabwe, look I'm very much disappointed with the ICC's decision. But the answer is "yes". Let's be honest -- Zimbabwe cricket has been on their agenda pretty much every time they got together.

"I don't know what the root cause may be but finance is a good place to start. Finances of Zimbabwe cricket has been in the headlines for so many years. So that could be it, to be honest. "Right now, there are questions that I don't have an answer of. So I don't wanna tweet or say something to anyone that I have to basically change after few days or weeks or months. I'm just gonna stay quiet for now."

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