When cricketing reasons prevail

HARARE - In the past few days, I took the more mature Zimbabwean cricket fans down memory lane and penned two articles based on the experience of former cricketer Bernard Pswarayi – considered by many to be one of the finest players, black or white, never to represent his country.

The two-parted interview, published in the Saturday and Monday editions, were quite well received and generated captivating debate, the kind of feedback I can only regard as good for the game.

Ex-fast bowler Pswarayi, in the two interviews, went on the offense against both the old and current Zimbabwe Cricket administrations, condemning the former of systematic racism that prevented gifted black cricketers of his generation from playing for their country, and then the later of running down a once thriving sport whose structures were well laid-out and put cricketers first ahead of administrators.

I attracted some serious flak for the articles, some comments on a Zimbabwean cricket forum appearing to suggest the stories served no good purpose, but only opened up old wounds.

Healthy debate is good, but I also found it quite interesting that some of my critics were ready to concur with Pswarayi’s views on the failings of the current ZC administration, yet they were not prepared to the same about his take on the ills of the past. 

While this job has taught me to take criticism in my stride, I have also learnt that it only seems to be the past we want to forget that always come back, because we can’t seem to let it go.

It is impossible to bury the past completely, otherwise it will return to haunt you in some strange way. Revisiting the past without bitterness, with a positive mind and in order to forge a better future, is the only way to bury unpleasant experiences of times gone by. 

Life always comes full circle; ignore the past at the risk of the future.  

Denying or burying your past comes at the expense of the good that is waiting for you when you really address it instead.

Zimbabwe Cricket, sadly, has not addressed the past, and one can feel an overwhelming sense of de ja vu in recent events in the game.

ZC has simply repeated the prejudice tendencies of the past, racial or otherwise, much to the detriment of the game. The damage looks worse now, when the prejudices are also combined with sheer incompetence, selfishness and a negligent attitude towards the game. 

Why ZC let the legendary Heath Streak slip through their hands leaves a sour taste in the mouths.

Cricketing reasons does not seem to be behind this decision to relieve Streak of his duties as national bowling coach.

There was some attempt at an explanation at the time, something to do with ZC not being in a sound financial position to be able to renew Streak’s contract. 

What an extremely lousy excuse, one which exposes an organisation which doesn’t have its priorities in order. 

Pswarayi nailed it when he remarked that there “are not enough people who intimately understand the game” in the structures of ZC.

In the second part of the interview, he summed it up excellently, saying: “A serious relook must be taken at the administration and if necessary some restructuring. Slim down the administration and throw more resources at development, coaching and facilities. Cricketers (and that includes COACHES) are the lifeblood of the organisation, if we are not developing these, the administrators should not have jobs.”

Pswarayi is not saying we do not need administrators. Of course we do. He is saying there are folk in the structures of ZC who will hardly be missed, or for lack of a better word, insignificant, but are probably drawing good salaries and perks.

These are people Pswarayi says should not have jobs if the lifeblood of the organisation, players and coaches, are not there or are not well looked after. They should not be there if facilities are not being expanded and maintained.

But because here the well-being of the game has ceased to be the reason certain decisions are made, people like Bangladesh and Pakistan will continue to tap into the Streaks and Grant Flowers of our country to up the level of their game.

Streak’s recent appointment as Bangladesh’s bowling coach, in particular, is a classic example of two conflicting national boards. One that’s for the game, and one that’s for…well, need I say more.

ZC have been left with egg on their faces.

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