Please, give cricket a chance

HARARE - In some way or another, the world we live in these days faces hardships and circumstances that are out of our control.

A way to really make the world a better place is to reduce the negative impact of these factors we cannot control, and it is heartening to see a global change of attitude to so many things around us.

One such is sporting ties with Zimbabwe, specifically cricket tours here by such sides as Australia, who thankfully arrived in Harare yesterday for a tri-series contest with the hosts and South Africa.

Staying positive in a negative world is however still work in progress.

A sad article carried in Australia’s edition of The Telegraph this week, titled “Zimbabwe, where the Australian cricket team is about to play, is not a very nice place,” unfortunately entangles us in that negative world we are trying to free ourselves from. 

The writer, Anthony Sharwood, points out to “failed state, chronic and sustained human flight, legitimacy of the state, poverty and progressive deterioration of public services” as good enough reason for the Australian cricket team to extend their decade-long tour boycotts of Zimbabwe.

While those views would ordinarily attract approval on the merits of that argument alone, but in this era, in a world where few countries are no more moral and righteous than others, the reaction from many who read the piece was a plea to give cricket a chance and separate politics from sport. 

What the writer also forgets is that the biggest beneficiaries of tours by world-class teams like Australia are in fact the biggest victims of such dire situations as the one obtaining in Zimbabwe.

Here in our country, these victims are the players and the cricket loving-public, who have suffered just as much as the next man from the brutal economic crisis and political domination.

The regimes, the ruffians and the corrupt officials are not the victims.

They care less about what people think, or give a hoot about a game of cricket.

Examples are awash in most of the major cricket-playing nations.

Take for instance those savages in India who gang-rape and hang women. They don’t care about a game of cricket.

Just like those gunmen in Pakistan who opened fire on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, killing eight people and injuring several players in 2009, don’t care about a game of cricket.

Just like Al Qaeda, which has caused untold suffering in Pakistan, don’t care about a game of cricket.

Just like the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka don’t care about a game of cricket.

Just like those war-mongers in Afghanistan – a good emerging cricket nation embraced by the entire cricketing world – don’t care about a game of cricket.

Just like those gang murderers in the West Indies cricket-loving territory of Trinidad & Tobago don’t care about a game of cricket.

Why then make the innocent victims, the public and the players, suffer?

Welcome to Zimbabwe, Michael Clarke and your boys!

You are model professionals.  I know you have come with an open mind. Perhaps Faf du Plessis will warn you about a $20 burger, hotel elevators that don’t work and poor conditions of the practice nets.

These are some of the challenges of coming to Zimbabwe. But spare a thought for your many adoring fans who have to put up with much more serious challenges on a daily basis!

One thing for certain, you will find the warmest and friendliest people around. That’s a promise.

On the field, our cricketers will relish the opportunity of taking on ODI cricket’s top-ranked team, and I dare say play and compete to the best of their ability.


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