The Zimbabwe women's team have become the first to feel the full brunt of the ICC's suspension of Zimbabwe Cricket. Four players - and a coach - selected for the Women's Global Development Squad have been barred from travelling to England to take part in a series of T20 games against Kia Super League teams at the end of July.
Zimbabwe women's captain Mary-Anne Musonda and squad members Anesu Mushangwe, Tasmeen Granger, and Sharne Mayers were all due to take part in the series, while coach Adam Chifo was to have accompanied them to gain vital experience. All five of them have been blocked from participating.
"As I'm sure you are aware, the ICC Board has taken the decision to suspend Zimbabwe Cricket with immediate effect and place a restriction on the Zimbabwe national team participating in ICC events," ICC Women's Cricket manager Holly Colvin wrote in an email to Chifo.
"Unfortunately this also extends to their participation in the Women's Global Development Squad program, and so it is with great regret that I write to inform you that Adam as Head Coach and the four Zimbabwe players will no longer be able to take part in the UK edition of the tour next week," Colvin wrote.
While at least one member of the men's squad, allrounder Solomon Mire, has already announced his international retirement, Zimbabwe's women cricketers have been hit particularly hard by the fallout between the Sports and Recreation Commission and Zimbabwe Cricket, and the resultant suspension of Zimbabwe by the ICC.
As soon as the SRC stepped in to dissolve the ZC board in June, claiming electoral irregularities - amid various other allegations against ZC - the ICC moved to freeze all funding to Zimbabwe. That meant that no contracted players would be paid match fees or salaries, and also that the Zimbabwe women's tour to Ireland and the Netherlands, which was supposed to have run concurrently with the men's tour, was cancelled at the last minute.
The suspension also means that Zimbabwean representative teams will not be able to take part in any ICC events. The women's squad had been scheduled to travel to Scotland for the Women's T20 World Cup Qualifiers at the end of August, having gained entry to the event by winning the Africa Region qualifying tournament in May.
Several squad members took to social media to voice their despair at the unfolding events:
"Was broken after the @ICC ruling last Thursday," wrote allrounder Granger.
"I'm gutted," wrote captain Musonda. "This is wrong and unjust. We can't be the team that almost made it. No! Do the right thing. We are bleeding to death. You are watching."
"My heart bleeds as I have watched these ladies work hard for this," wrote ZC Women's Cricket Coordinator Samu Nkiwane. "The determination, sacrifices, hard work, team spirit and achievements so far, for them not to go to the Global Qualifiers?"
"This might not mean anything to others but it means a lot to us and Women in general...This is our life..this is our game..we have invested years and years into this...why now should we be denied a chance to qualify for the WORLD CUP and emulate what the Zim Gems have done!!! Why are women not taken seriously in anything?" wrote former national player and assistant coach Sinikiwe Mpofu.
"After all the hard work we cannot suffer like this, our hearts are bleeding and nothing is being done," wrote national squad member Nomatter Mutasa.