Blaming the players totally absurd

HARARE - Last week, one of our fellow papers published two articles lambasting Zimbabwe cricket players for their early World Twenty20 exit, labelling them “flops.”

Depending on which side of the fence you sit, you may possibly agree with the writers, or you may find this rebuke baseless and brash.

So, let's take a bit of time out to carefully dissect this statement, and the actual events that have led up to the heart breaking situation we find ourselves in.

Many people have asked how our cricket has deteriorated to such an extent that we lost to one associate member, and then scrape home to another associate member.

One’s first inclination is to fully agree with this question that seemingly has a great deal of justification.

Why is it that our cricket is going backwards, instead of forwards?

After all, the numbers of first-class players have improved significantly over the last 10 years.

Franchise cricket was put into place in 2009, and yet we are still the inconsistent team of 10 years ago who make the same mistakes time and time again.

A number of senior players have played a considerable amount of international cricket, but a quick glance at their stats will tell you that in truth, they are lucky to be playing international cricket.

So, that is the one side of the coin which have made many fans and journalists throw their hands up in the air with despair.

Many of these observations are fair, and to add insult to injury, these players who haven't exactly turned heads and set the world alight, then decided to down tools and make demands that would further anger fans and journalists who have lost faith in the players.

Yes, the angry fans would say, we know that the players haven't been paid, and we know that in general, they aren't been looked after, but, why take your grievances onto the pitch?

Nobody pointed a gun at their head and forced them to play if they were unhappy with their environment.

So, that is one side of the coin, let us see if we can have a look at the flip side, and see what we can come up with.

When asked if all the rumours were true about players not being paid on time, and if it was true that salaries were outstanding, Zimbabwe Cricket have never really denied the accusations.

What they have however done, is try to blame the situation on everybody and everything else, other than themselves, and have neatly dodged, ducked and weaved out of the way of any touchy questions pertaining to members who have allegedly misused funds, like an unsettled batsman desperately trying to avoid well directed bouncers from a fast bowler.

When asked why they have been unable to pay the players, they have said that in the past, they relied heavily on incoming tours, and more specifically television rights from the likes of England, Australia and especially India.

Once again, this is a very faIr answer, as these countries do play a massive part in world cricket both on and off the field.

But, is it fair to blame everything that has gone wrong in recent times on countries refusing to tour, and lack of television rights?

Some of the more ardent cricket fans will openly scoff at these so called excuses and have the following questions to ask:

Why is it that the general state of cricket finds itself in the doldrums?

For example, why are so many of the grounds in a terrible state, bordering on disrepair?

In the 1980s, before Zimbabwe even had Test status, grounds such as Alexandra Sports Club, Old Hararians, Bulawayo Athletic Club, and many more grounds were more than capable of hosting first class fixtures against the touring county and various A teams, let alone club matches.

We had no external funds coming in then, so how is it then that these grounds were always in pristine condition?

Even when Zimbabwe were granted Test status in 1992, it was a further Four years before a Test series had extensive coverage when England toured in December/January of 1996/97.

And yet, despite the lack of international income, players were looked after, and even if the match fees were pittance, they were always paid on time.

Items that were once considered part of cricket development such as cricket balls, stumps, etc, have now become a luxury, as time and time again schools, clubs and franchises are unable to do the basics such as net practice, due to the fact that some of the items mentioned are not available due to lack of funds.

Yesterday’s Daily News had a short but spine chilling article saying that retrenchments are eminent.

Players and officials have a right to demand their monthly salaries, just like any other working person, from a cleaner to a journalist.

So can we really call our players flops?

Or can we embrace the name, take it one step further and call the entire setup which includes players, officials, coaches, managers and chairmen a total disgrace?

Let us remind ourselves that Zimbabwe have not only been on the receiving end, but we have also left superior countries with red faces, after beating them in various forms of the game.

You need only look at England and their recent loss to the Netherlands to remind yourself that cricket, and more to the point, T20 cricket, is a game full of surprises, some good, and some not so good.

The truth of the matter is that we are all at fault. Some players have undoubtedly become arrogant, lazy and complacent, while we also have to acknowledge that certain members of our governing body need to be held accountable for what has now become an organisation which finds itself in free fall mode.

Feedback: sports@dailynews.co.zw.

Comments (2)

Zimbabwe used to have people playing cricket in all the cities and towns and all the farming areas. The National team used to fill Harare Sports Club with spectators. Political interfernce, the demise of Commercial farming and maladministration and self enrichment from management and disenchantment meant that supporters & players voted with their feet. Nowadays Zimcricket has to Bus in schoolkids to make the crowds half respectable. It used to be a honor to play for the national team, nowadays nobody cares!

Johnny K - 4 April 2014

As a past administrator and my experience of the ZC Administration I am in no doubt that the major blame for the state of Zimbabwe Cricket lies totally in the hands of Chingoka, his merry men and the general public for not demanding the change so sorely needed

Tim Savory - 4 April 2014

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