Integrity of Zim cricket at stake

HARARE - At a time stakeholders ought to be focusing on how they want to secure Zimbabwean cricket’s future and salvage lost pride, the integrity of the game has been dealt another big blow.

Administration and money issues, compounded by the recent Bangladesh debacle, have caused a lot of damage to the image of the game in this country, and hot-on-the-heels of that, one of our leading club giants Takashinga Cricket Club have astonishingly taken along several national team players on a tour to lowly Uganda.

While the whitewash defeat in Bangladesh was a new low in terms of performance on the field, this should rank as the biggest blow yet to the dignity of the game in this country that we now reduce ourselves to looking for results in Uganda, at the expensive of the noble cause of development.

This will deliver a serious blow to the heritage of cricket in Zimbabwe. We have taken one more step along the road to erasing a long and proud tradition. 

Is it that our national coach and head of selectors, who are both part of the Uganda tour, are so desperate for a soft-landing to extents of wanting to avenge the annihilation in Bangladesh on little Uganda by touring with a Zimbabwe Select side in the name of Takashinga?

It’s not just the integrity of Zimbabwe which is at stake here, but Test cricket too. ICC ought to be worried. 

“Test cricket is the pinnacle form of the game, and we will continue to protect and promote it above all. It is our link to the game’s origins; it is what defines greatness and it is recognised by the players as being the benchmark by which they wish to be graded and remembered,” says the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The move by Takashinga (or Zimbabwe Cricket) to send Test players to an emerging associate nation has undermined that ICC undertaking, and those who remotely follow the game are aware that Test cricket has never faced serious threats in its history as it has in the past decade and ICC has been at pains to introduce radical package of measures to curb the slide. 

True, we do have an obligation to help out the emerging cricketing nations on the continent to advance their own game. But it must be within the confines of certain boundaries, in a manner that doesn’t compromise or devalue the dignity and heritage of the game in our country.

Quite clearly here, people have gone to Uganda in search of results, and that is disgraceful. What a wonderful opportunity missed; an opportunity to help the Ugandans develop their cricket while at the same time exposing, say, the crop of our emerging club or franchise players to difference opposition and different conditions.

At the most, I would pick the best of the emerging players from the four franchises, those players who are not yet quite ready for the step-up to international cricket and still uncapped.

It proved a success in the past. Why abandon it now? Zimbabwe cricket must return to the basics and involve all the cricketing brains available to it.

My suspicion, from observing things and talking to people, is that the coach and chief selector have been given an unreasonable amount of latitude and autonomy by their bosses to make all the key cricketing decisions of the country, on and off field – in a misguided belief that they have the best cricket brains in the country. 

If there is even the slightest suspicion that these two hold all the aces, how can harvesting of ideas and democracy be guaranteed?    

From last week’s rare press conference, ZC chairman Wilson Manase needs to follow his tough talk - which goes suddenly soft when such decisions like stopping Test players from touring Uganda have to be made - with tough action.

Deep down in the gallows of their conscience, someone at ZC knows what is being done wrongly, and must put a stop to it.

Comments (1)

“Not in that poor lowly stable”… Yes, Uganda is lowly, but not as lowly as you think. It was an insult to the Takashinga Club to suggest they made a raid on already depleted ZCU funds to finance their trip to 'lowly' Uganda. It was Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) who got in touch with ZCU over the visit; and the trip was fully funded by UCA: travel, meals etc and accommodation at Nob View Hotel, Ntinda, which I'm sure the visitors found far from lowly. Moreover, is it not in cricket's brief for the more enlightened cricketing nations, of which Zimbabwe is one, to encourage and assist their lesser brethren. Thank you, Takashinga Club, for coming to 'lowly' Uganda and bringing with you some good cricket and good cricketers. It was a pleasure hosting you! May Uganda cricket and Zimbabwe cricket thrive together! Colin Macbeth, Overseas member of the London-based Cricket Writers' Club and a practised cricketing correspondent in East and Central Africa. ps. Happy Christmas!

colin macbeth - 22 December 2014

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