Zimbabwe bet on Victoria Falls stadium as on-field fortunes sink

Zimbabwe bet on victoria falls stadium as on-field fortunes sink0

Victoria Falls is one of Africa’s major tourism markets, with the promise of adventure and a perfectly Instagrammable backdrop, a resource that Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) aims to tap into with a daring plan to build a 10,000-capacity stadium in the resort town.

The 35,000-strong town of Victoria Falls is famed for its wildlife, water sports, and surviving emblems of the British colonial past. It is located on Zimbabwe’s border with Zambia, beneath the brilliant mist generated by the roaring Zambezi River cascade.

However, it is not well-known for cricket, with only two senior clubs operating there now. Nonetheless, a new international-class arena is considered as a chance to expand the game beyond Harare and Bulawayo.

According to local media, the five to ten million dollar venture between ZC and Zimbabwe’s government comes as the troubled team is assured qualification for the 50-over World Cup in 2027 as co-hosts with South Africa and Namibia.

“We need to spread the game, which we have done over the years, in all 10 provinces of this country,” ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said.

“Victoria Falls is one of those places that we think is important from a tourist point of view.”

While the project is conceptually simple, it is not without difficulties. The concept of a Victoria Falls cricket ground was first proposed in 2010, however it was put on hold due to financial constraints.

Cricket would rely on wealthy supporter groups following marquee visits by teams that rarely visit Zimbabwe, such as England and Australia, to regularly fill grandstands and hotels in the absence of an affluent local market to leverage.

ZC did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.


Following stinging defeats by Scotland and Uganda in 2023, Zimbabwe, a former top ten side, was ruled out of both the current 50-over World Cup in India and next year’s supersized, 20-team Twenty20 tournament in the Caribbean.

ZC have been actively chasing overseas talent to bolster their ranks after losing to 63rd-ranked Rwanda and 33rd-ranked Tanzania in last month’s T20 qualifiers.

Former England international Gary Ballance made a brief return to Zimbabwe earlier this year before retiring abruptly, and top-order batsman Nick Welch earned his Zimbabwe debut after a stint with Leicestershire.

Antum Naqvi, an Australia-based batsman, has declared his objective of national selection for Zimbabwe, a country he has no familial ties to and had not visited until January of this year.

“I’ve told the ZC board I’m pretty interested (to) take the opportunity to play at the highest level and ZC seem to be very keen as well, to do a bit of research into it,” Naqvi was quoted as saying by Reuters.

On the advice of former Zimbabwe opener Solomon Mire, the now 24-year-old travelled to Africa in search of his professional debut.

He then dominated first-class cricket, scoring three hundreds in five games at a Don Bradman-like average of 95. Similar white-ball results aided the Belgian-born player’s rise to local popularity and selection for Zimbabwe’s Under-25 team.

“I didn’t really think about playing for Zimbabwe at first.” “The discussions only began after the season ended,” he continued.

As Zimbabwean cricket faces familiar turbulence, breaking free from convention may be a risk worth taking.

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