HARARE - Ex-Zimbabwe cricket coach Alan Butcher is concerned for the local game which he feels is suffering a natural death due to power struggles within the administration circles.
The Englishman was in charge of Zimbabwe from February 2010 until the end of March 2013. Since then he has remained an ardent follower of local cricket from a distance.
“I think Zimbabwe are short of quality players and have lost some important ones over the last three or four years. Taibu, Utseya, Jarvis, Taylor and Cremer (injury) all left big holes and it was a struggle to get results even with those players,” Butcher told the Daily News.
“As far as management is concerned, I don’t really know about the current set up but there’s no doubt that poor management played a big part in the above named players leaving plus a few others.”
The malaise in the local game was laid bare when Zimbabwe was dumped out of the ongoing ICC WT20 group stages by Associate nation Afghanistan at the weekend.
Earlier, the side, now coached by Dav Whatmore, had scrapped to narrow wins over lowly-ranked Associate nations Hong Kong and Scotland.
Butcher has penned a book detailing his reign as Zimbabwe coach titled: The Good Murungu: A Cricket Tale of the Unexpected.
The book will be released by Pitch Publishing on April 1 and will be sold for £12.99 per copy.
“As I have stated in my book, there’s too much distrust of each other’s agendas; too many power games. Not enough people with solely the interests of Zimbabwe cricket at heart,” he said.
“Obviously, there are issues about lack of finance . . . but if there was trust between everybody that could still be overcome I think.”
Elaborating his point on the issue of distrust and agendas, Butcher said: “Unfortunately, it kind of divides up on racial lines; there’s still no getting away from it.
“The whites think the black administration is corrupt or incompetent or both.
“The blacks think the whites have a ‘take over’ agenda . . . a residue of colonisation if you like. I think this is a minority but as you will know it only takes a loud few to stir things the wrong way...and for the silent majority to do nothing.”
Butcher urged the authorities at Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to invest in grassroots programmes.
“As far as development is concerned, it’s time hard work and some investment is put in this area. When I was in the job for about a year, I said it might take 10 years for Zimbabwe to really become competitive again,” Butcher said.
“ . . . But that was dependent on good management from the top, keeping the nucleus of the squad together and people showing patience and consistency. None of those things have happened and so we’re back at the start again.”
The Englishman also had no kind words for some senior players, who are weighing down the team with some sloppy and schoolboy blunders.
“However, it was still disappointing to see the silly unprofessional run outs, panic batting and poor death bowling ...but as I said before, the players have also got to hold their hands up for some poor cricket by some experienced players,” he said.
Ex-ZC development coach Nicholas Munyurwa, now coaching in Pretoria, South Africa, concurred with Butcher.
“We don’t have the right people in the positions of influence. Cricket does not need people who are educated to run it but people with passion and vision and so now this is affecting the players also,” Munyurwa said.
“ZC has to do something. We need change in our cricket. They should stop this entire politics thing and politicians must go to politics and leave sports people to run the game.”