Demotion, what demotion?

HARARE - Outgoing Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) national convenor of selectors, Givemore Makoni has laughed off claims that he was demoted in the ongoing association’s restructuring exercise.

Makoni, a former Manicaland Mountaineers administrator and chief selector for the national team selection panel was reassigned to a new position where he was appointed director development and club cricket.

The Daily News on Sunday Sports Writer, Austin Karonga (AK) tracked down Givemore Makoni (GM) to discuss about his recent re-deployment.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

AK: We understand you have been given a fresh mandate within ZC, could you shed more light on that.

GV: I’m director, game development and club cricket, that is my new role. At the moment I’m still the convenor until the board meets. The board hasn’t met and until such a time they meet to pick the new selection panel, I will also continue in that role as convenor of selectors.

AK: Your re-deployment from being convenor of selectors to a post in cricket development has been viewed as a demotion in some quarters, what is your response?

GM: Demotion from what? That’s what I don’t understand. There are three directors in Zimbabwe Cricket. There’s a chief executive (Wilfred Mukondiwa) who is the main man and you have got director international cricket and commercial that’s Alistair (Campbell).

You have got director finance, that’s Esther Lupepe and then you have got director game development, that’s me.So in terms of hierarchy that is the executive of ZC.

I was a convenor of selectors. Convenor of selectors is not a full time job it’s part time because it’s as and when you have a tour and you also have the domestic league to look at but it’s not really a full time employment opportunity where you have to do reports every single day.

Sometimes you go for six months without a tour. Remember we used to go for like six months without a tour, you would have domestic cricket and when that’s finished you have got no cricket. So I don’t know what people mean by demotion.

AK: So was it a promotion?

GM: It’s a promotion as far as I’m concerned and I’m holding one of the most important departments in cricket — that is development which I think if we go by the plans that we have we will still continue to churn out good players for the country. It’s the nerve centre of cricket.

If you don’t have a proper development structure then you are doomed as a Test nation, so it’s a very important role. It is a promotion but of course I have read a lot of reports, that’s their own opinion.

AK: What is your vision for club cricket, taking Harare for example where the premier competition, the Vigne Cup is yet to be played to a conclusion since 2005?

GM: I think that is my main concern and it’s something that I’m going to be running with. We need to bring the competitiveness in club cricket. We are putting a lot of plans in place. We are going to have what we call the Zimbabwe Premier League (ZPL) which will be a club competition.

Eight top teams will play in the ZPL and it’s one of those things that people should look forward to. The Vigne Cup is the Premier League in Mashonaland. This is the biggest cricketing province it has to go back to its glory days again.

We are working flat out to ensure that there’s relegation and promotion for clubs. We want to ensure that we streamline the clubs in the Vigne Cup so that it’s competitive. It’s going to be mandatory for all national players to play club cricket.

It’s part of their contracts but just that it’s something that was not being enforced. It’s going to be enforced and people have to start playing club cricket and accumulate stats.

So we will use the stats for them to be assessed in terms of franchise cricket. It’s very valid; every Test- playing nation has got a vibrant club cricket structure. We used to have that and I’m sure that is going to be our main focus.

AK: How are the eight teams going to be picked to participate in the ZPL?

GM: We going to pick the top three teams from Harare by virtue of it being the biggest cricketing province, two from Bulawayo and one from Mutare, Masvingo and Kwekwe.

It’s going to be intense; obviously, stats are going to be looked at when guys are being picked for the national team — so we are going to come up with eight teams and then we gonna seed players, have coaches and have that as a Premier League. It’s gonna start this year and we want it to grow with each passing year trying to bring that competitive aspect in cricket.

AK: What other plans are lined up with regards to the game development?

GM: We are also going to be introducing High Performance Centres (HPCs) in all major towns in high density areas so we will have one in Emakandeni, Masvingo, Gweru, Mbizo, Chitungwiza and Harare.

Those HPCs are going to focus on age group cricket from U13 to U19 and there’s going to be inter HPCs tournaments where guys are gonna play and accumulate stats and we will use those stats for selection for age group cricket. It’s going to be serious cricket in terms of making sure that we expose the guys.

Cricket has moved from being a minority sport so we now need to make sure that it continues to be a mass sport. So with the right aggression we are going to make sure that a lot of kids are exposed and they play this game.

Cricket must take over from soccer as the number one sport and the only way we can do that is by making sure that it’s played in all the four corners of Zimbabwe, exposing youngsters and making them play.

AK: How are you going to make this a reality considering that not many high density suburbs possess the requisite infrastructure for cricket?

GM: All we need to do as a department is just make sure that we have got the right facilities.

We will avail the facilities, these facilities must be within a walking distance, upcoming young players must walk from home and go and train.

So, we have got plenty of programmes that we are putting in place to ensure that the game grows, to ensure that everyone who has got talent is exposed and has got an opportunity to be looked at whether at franchise cricket, club level or age group cricket.

They should be a natural progression if you make the U19 you progress until you make it in the national side. It’s something that we have been lacking over the past few years and it’s something that we are gonna restart to ensure that at least the game grows and spreads and we remain competitive — that is basically the plan.

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