“The television rights work in descending order. It starts with India, England, Australia and might break even for Bangladesh.”
Having been the longest serving president of a cricket board, Zimbabwe Cricket boss Peter Chingoka has seen the good, the bad and the ugly. He ascended to the post 21 years ago in 1992, just after Zimbabwe received Test status, and has presided over the changing health and climate of Zimbabwe cricket. At different stages of his long tenure, he has been a popular and an unpopular figure. As the figurehead of one of Test cricket’s lower lights, he shares sympathies with an emerging team such as Bangladesh.
On the first day of the second Test between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the ever-hospitable Chingoka held a press conference for the visiting journalists at the Chairman’s Enclosure of the Harare Sports Club and spoke freely on issues of Zimbabwe’s cricket, his tenure and the challenges facing him.
In 2006, Chingoka was at the centre of Zimbabwe’s decision to withdraw from Test cricket. It was a tumultuous time, preceded by all of Zimbabwe’s top players refusing to play as long as he was in office.
“Obviously the time when we had to withdraw from playing Test cricket was a difficult time. We the administrators wanted to make sure that cricket becomes a truly national sport and it is played by everyone in the country regardless of colour, race or religion. The top players thought that they should be getting more money and less money going to develop the sport.
“Cricket is a very expensive sport to run, especially the way you have to look after the central contracts. We (Zimbabwe Cricket) have to look after everything — from kit for the primary schools, secondary schools, clubs and provinces to look coaching for the development programme. At the current time, our economy has been having its own difficulties so the sponsorship levels are very low.”
He went on to say that they have survived mainly on the International Cricket Council’s events, but the lack of regular cricket was hurting the board’s finances and also the team. “The television rights work in descending order. It starts with India, England, Australia and might break even for Bangladesh. All the other tours don’t make money. So the Future Tours Programme (FTP) has not had much effect on us as we don’t have many games with the leading teams that could have helped us getting some money. It has been eleven years that we haven’t had full participation. So we have been deprived from that opportunity. And besides the financial aspects, this has also harmed the development of our players. The less matches has denied our players the chance to gain experience and get the exposure,” he added.
In his 22nd year at the top, Chingoka has a lot still on his plate. His term ends in 2014, but he is willing to keep doing the job as long as he is needed. Judging from his demeanour and the authority he carries, 2014 and beyond looks a real possibility.