Zimbabwe: Fresh Challenges for Zim, Afghan Series

7 August 2020

The T20I series between Zimbabwe and Afghanistan could face fresh challenges following the sacking of the Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive, Lutfullah Stanikzai.

The two countries had scheduled a five-match series between July and August in Zimbabwe.

But, the showdown now looks unlikely as the world struggles to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Apparently Stanikzai, who had been handling all the documentation and negotiations on behalf of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, was sent packing last week.

He was facing allegations bordering on "mismanagement" of the game in the country.

ACB chairman Farhan Yusefza has since ordered him to surrender all the paperwork and equipment to the board.

"This is to inform you that this letter serves as confirmation that your employment contract, in the capacity of chief executive officer of Afghanistan Cricket Board, is terminated effectively," the letter read.

"The reasons of your contract termination is... mismanagement, unsatisfactory performance, misbehaviour with managers."

Stanikzai, who had a three-year contract with ACB, was shown the exit just a year into his job.

He was hired in July last year following Afghanistan's poor showing at the 50-over World Cup where they failed to win a single match and finished bottom.

While negotiations are likely to continue between the Zimbabwe Cricket board, and the ACB, the Afghans have announced they will look for a new chief executive.

ZC officials have since sent the tour proposal to their counterparts, who appeared keen to follow it up, with Stanikzai showing huge interest.

But, the talks could be derailed because of the latest developments.

The five-match series has been under a cloud of doubt following the spike in the global coronavirus cases.

Afghanistan have recorded 37 000 new cases this week.

Zimbabwe now has in excess of 4 000 cases following a sharp rise in the last month.

ZC acting managing director, Givemore Makoni, has always said they were looking forward to the series to go ahead.

"We wrote to the Sports Commission about our proposals to play games," he saida few weeks ago.

"Remember, they gave us the greenlight to train since cricket is one of those low risk sports.

"So, we have applied to play games, and host internationals, but we are still waiting for their response."

But, with the new lockdown measures that include an overnight curfew, the players have since been forced to scale down operations.

Training camps have been dissolved and the players are now training individually at home.

The Chevrons have been training in small zonal groups in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Kadoma, Kwekwe and Masvingo in line with the Covid-19 health guidelines and social distancing protocols.

"We have been following strict health guidelines to make sure we have a safe return to cricket," said Makoni.

"There are guidelines from the International Cricket Council, and we also have our own guidelines that we have drafted, to suit our conditions.

"We always fight to make sure that we are always on point with regards to health and safety.

"Cricket is a game that respects social distancing, the players have been tested, they have been given sanitisers and the training grounds have been fumigated."

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