Cricket saga deepens, as Makoni battles Campbell

HARARE - Besieged Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) convenor of selectors Givemore Makoni has had bitter clashes with cricket stakeholders, including Alistair Campbell over Vusi Sibanda’s selection for a New Zealand tour, documents show.

This comes as the Southern Rocks top official has been sucked into an alleged racism row with Education minister David Coltart over the latter’s proposed changes for national sporting teams’ selection criteria or mechanisms targeted at cricket, and other minority disciplines.

In e-mail communication seen by the Daily News yesterday, Makoni and his predecessor have not only sparred over Sibanda’s inclusion on the Wellington tour last year, but also sharply differed over other ideological issues.

While Campbell has used his position as head of an influential ZC technical committee to “barrack” Makoni over his decisions, the Masvingo-based executive has also shot back at the ex-national team captain with equally powerful political barbs.

“I am stunned by the sheer arrogance and total disregard for due process displayed in this email. Your first line ‘NOTIFYING ME’ as opposed to engaging me sums up your lack of respect, for not only me but for all the men of stature that make up the cricket committee,” read a January 10 dispatch from Campbell.

“The committee met prior to the New Zealand tour and decided that as Vusi was leaving he should not be available for selection for that tour. Today, you release a side containing Vusi. This is in total contempt of the decision handed down to you by the Cricket Committee,” it added.

Although the ex-top order batsman claims “nobody was in dispute” with Sibanda’s contributions to the national game, he bases his decision and strong recommendation for the exclusion of the Midwest Rhinos star on the grounds that the player had opted to play in Australia.

“…we cannot allow his actions to become a precedent. The player was informed of the consequences of his actions.

“The bottom line Givemore is that you are ostracising yourself from your peers. At a time when we need to be on the same page, you wish to be on a different one. I was called to mediate in your last selection meeting,” Campbell thundered.

“The committee’s decision is final. An apology for what has transpired is due to its members. Personally, meet Vusi and along with the coach, apologise for giving him false hope. This should never have happened,” he said.

But in his spirited response to Campbell’s arrogance and insubordination charges, Makoni said: “I acknowledge receipt of your mail and would like to apologise to you, and your committee if my e-mail to you was a sign of arrogance and disrespect. That was not my intention and I did not know that your feelings on Vusi missing one Logan Cup game and one one-day game were that strong. However my feelings on your decision to exclude Vusi remain unchanged,” he added.

“I believe Vusi is being treated unfair and it’s not good for cricket. Why is it that other players are allowed to go and play outside country, miss domestic games and still be eligible for selection,” Makoni says in a January 11 salvo to Campbell.

“It is important to note that the issue is not about Givemore Makoni. Its’ about respecting the position of the national convenor. Am sure you will agree with me that when you were national convenor, everybody respected the team that you selected (and) even those that were not happy with the teams still respected your position.”

“Since my appointment as national convenor, all the teams that we have selected have been questioned, changed and rejected by the coach supported by people like yourself,” the distressed former cricketer said.

Earlier, the pugnacious administrator had based his decision to include Sibanda on the New Zealand tour on the grounds that the opening batsman had played a majority of domestic games and only missed “one Logan Cup game, a one-day game and the Stanbic T20 series”.

“Vusi is the best opener we have got and he is one of the few batsman who have consistently scored runs for the country as evidenced by his stats in the past three series were (sic) he scored total of 272 runs at an average of 45,33 in Test matches and a total 412 runs at an average of 37.45 in ODIs. This shows that it is in the best interest of the country to include Vusi on this tour,” Makoni said in a January 10 e-mail.

“Like I highlighted in my previous correspondence, the policy recommended to the board by Cricket Committee is the way to go, but it is it timing that l am in disagreement with. I believe such kind of policy should be included in player’s contracts from the onset, so that players are aware of the policy when they sign their contracts,” he said, adding to introduce “new policies midway through the season” would only cause confusion among players as to “which foreign tournaments, leagues or competitions they can partake in”.

“It is my understanding that our captain (Brendan Taylor) is currently playing cricket in New Zealand and he will be missing domestic fixtures that begins on the 9th of January 2012 are we then saying he should not be picked because he is not playing domestic cricket?”, Makoni said.

And as the Zimbabwean cricket reform saga rages on, Coltart not only stands accused of trying to restore the status quo, but also engaging in political games such as discouraging western teams led by England from touring Zimbabwe, and soliciting support for ex-Australian prime minister John Howard’s rise to the International Cricket Council’s presidency.

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