Personal pride must step aside

HARARE - The media and more importantly, thousands of loyal and devoted cricket fans were left hanging until the day of departure before Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) finally unveiled the squad of 17 which departed on Thursday for their tour of Bangladesh.

Rumour and speculation was rife about which players would be picked, and who would miss out.

There was hope that the likes of some of the younger players such as Donald Tiripano who showed good composure and great maturity in the one-off Test against South Africa.

There may also have been a few raised eyebrows at the inclusion of Craig Ervine, simply because he hasn't been around for the last two years, and due to the fact that he had been injured for the last two weeks.

And, when he batted in the four-day warm up match in the Lowveld, his contribution was a painstaking 35.

However, if you look at Ervine's form throughout the English/Irish summer, you may want to take a rethink before throwing the first stone.

Yes, it may force local players to become despondent, considering that they have trained as hard as any of the players going to Bangladesh, and have simply been overlooked, simply because an experienced left handed middle order batsman has made himself available again.

The topic is one of personal opinion, and far be it from me to judge the selectors on this particular choice.

Ervine is a good player, and will undoubtedly add solidity to the middle order.

The one major question mark is the exclusion of Sean Williams who has had a very consistent season up to now.

When the squad was released to the media and public at 9:28 on Thursday morning, the 16th of October, on the day of departure, a cry of utter surprise and devastation echoed through the corridors of each and every media house covering the announcement of the squad when Sean Williams' name wasn't in the squad of 17.

Was there a mistake? Some sort of miss understanding perhaps?

Did he possibly get injured in training?

Then the mists started to clear, and realisation dawned.

Hang on... Wait a minute.

Something is seriously amiss.

Why was Williams not in the important warm up game before the squad was finally announced?

A little bit of probing soon revealed that Williams and head coach Steven Mangongo had a bust up, which lead to the exclusion of a very vital player.

According to Williams, he had requested some time out to visit a relative who had been unwell.

Mangongo refused this request, and reminded Williams of the new rule that clearly states that if you do miss training sessions, you will not be considered for selection.

The sad truth of the matter is that both Williams and Mangongo are as stubborn and as hot headed as the wild donkeys, which used to roam in the Mashava bush veld, close to where my parents used to live.

These scrawny creatures would come just out of range of the water that was readily available, and when we tried to lend a helping hand, they would simply gallop away into the bush, braying at the top of their lungs.

This is a very similar situation, only that neither Williams nor Mangongo will run away.

They may bray [shout] at the top of their lungs like those miserable donkeys, but neither of them would be prepared to take a step back, or compromise.

This is an unfortunate situation as Williams is rapidly becoming a genuine all-rounder.

He is no longer the part time spinner captains toss the ball to in a desperate attempt to break a big partnership.

He has now become a bowler captains turn to with the knowledge that he will get turn and bounce, especially on the spin friendly pitches of Bangladesh, and there are very few people who would deny that Williams is the best player of spin in the country.

Furthermore, Williams is one of a handful of left-handers in the country, and would have given the middle order some flexibility alongside Ervine.

Unlike Ervine, Williams is always trying to be as positive as possible, even if it is doing the basics by getting a good stride in to avoid being trapped lbw.

Although Ervine can be very positive and at times downright destructive in the middle order, it's almost as if he forgets that he is supposed to try and score runs, by not moving his feet, and by playing little glance shots, which more often than not sees him caught at forward short leg, or silly mid on.

Williams would have been the perfect partner Ervine along and to keep him focused.

The top order is also an interesting selection, Vusi Sibanda had a horrible time of it when he toured Bangladesh with the A team last month, but did show signs of returning to form in the one day matches.

So will he open the batting, or will he possibly slide down the order and allow young Brian Chari to slot in at the top?

One name that has caused people to smile broadly is that of Wellington Masakadza who impressed with his left arm spin against Bangladesh A.

The team will be in for a tuff time during the next month or so, and one can only hope that personal pride won't be responsible for the downfall of the team.

Comments (1)

I think the coach did what was necessary and something that is vital to instilling discipline in the team. I trust his judgement,even though he may be labelled 'hot-headed'. I think the player was the one who was supposed to compromise,warm-up sessions don't take the whole day, you can always go back home and visit your sick relative. Many times it's some of these hard decisions leaders are constantly faced with in a day-to-day operations but it's a good lesson well learnt to both sides. You know its not easy leading people, especially if people have a tendency of coming up with excuses and reasons not to participate or be part of a team building. It reminds me at work how people used to tell people, 'my brother has fallen sick, a relative has died' when nothing of that has happened,so coach, thumps up, even if the reason was genuine,people we should way both options and give priority to the things of greatest value and intermingle them to achieve the desired goal.

mugongori - 18 October 2014

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