Zimbabwe cricketer says players have to glue shoes back together after every match

Zimbabwe cricketer says players have to glue shoes back together after every match
Puma’s decision to step in and sponsor Zimbabwe cricketer has been lauded by other stars

An international cricketer for Zimbabwe has received an overwhelming response after writing on social media about how the players have to glue their shoes back together after matches due to a lack of sponsorship.

The heart-melting request by Zimbabwe’s Ryan Burl has both struck a chord with cricket fans and resulted in him securing a much-needed sponsorship offer from Puma.

Burl’s appeal had been accompanied by a picture of his worn-out shoes alongside glue and tools.

After the 27-year-old batsman’s plea went viral on social media on Saturday, Puma was quick to respond with a tweet indicating it would step forward with an offer of sponsorship.

“Time to put the glue away, I got you covered,” the sportswear brand’s official account said in a tweet.

Burl later confirmed in a tweet saying he will be “joining the Puma team”, and thanking people for their response to his appeal.

“I am so proud to announce that I’ll be joining the @pumacricket team. This is all due to the help and support from the fans over the last 24 hours. I couldn’t be more grateful to you all. Thanks so much @PUMA,” said Burl.

Former Indian cricketers Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh lauded Puma for their action.

“Always there for the players @pumacricket well done,” said former Indian blower Harbhajan.

While there’s a happy ending for Burl, the series of events has put a spotlight on how the Zimbabwe team has been struggling financially while its cricket board is facing accusations of mismanagement.

Fans also noted with sadness the gap between top, multi-millionaire players with the richest cricket boards and others struggling to secure sponsorship.

The African country, that was granted One Day International (ODI) status before the 1983 World Cup and Test status in 1992, was among the strongest teams until the early 2000s with players like Heath Streak, Alastair Campbell, Tatenda Taibu, Henry Olonga and the Flower brothers (Andy and his younger brother Grant).

But in 2019 the ICC suspended the Zimbabwe cricket board due to its government’s interference and disallowed the country from playing in the T20 World Cup Qualifiers later that year.

The team was later reinstated but their re-entry faced setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most of their tours got canceled, including a proposed limited-overs tour to Zimbabwe by the Indian team in 2020.

The tweet by Burl stirred a debated on social media as several urged countries not to postpone tours with Zimbabwe, while others accused the ICC of neglecting some of teams more than others.

“Please do not keep postponing your tours with Zim. It brings them much needed experience and money, with all the viewers watching. Zim sure had a great team, but even the current team has splendid potential. Let’s not ignore them,” one user tweeted.

“As the richest boards, BCCI, ECB_cricket and CricketAus have the responsibility to ensure the game thrives, not just in their countries but internationally too. About time they work out a formula to do so,’ said another.

Burl played his last match on 25 April 2021, in the third T20I between Zimbabwe and Pakistan. The two countries played a three-match T20I series and a two-day Test series. Pakistan clinched the T20I series by 2-1 and whitewashed the African side in the Test series by 2-0.

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