Butcher's gloomy Zim Cricket outlook

HARARE - Former Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) coach Alan Butcher claims Givemore Makoni made unilateral decisions detrimental to the team’s progress during his reign as convenor of selectors.

The Englishman was in charge of Zimbabwe from February 2010 until the end of March 2013 at a time when the team returned to Test cricket after a six-year self-imposed exile.

Since then, he has remained an ardent follower of local cricket from a distance.

At the start of this month, Butcher, now 62, released a book titled, The Good Murungu: A Cricket Tale of the Unexpected, chronicling his days as Zimbabwe coach.

Speaking during a podcast to review his book, the former Essex and Surrey coach revealed how Makoni sneaked in some players into the team or starting XI at the 11th hour.

“It was very difficult from a coaching point of view to make your plans when selection was being made for reasons either than cricket,” says a miffed Butcher during the podcast.

“If a player needed to be dropped it was always Prosper Utseya who had a great record while we were there. He would always lose out in favour of Ray Price whose record was slightly better.

“Which I thought was pretty fair, most selectors usually go for records . . . before my final trip to the Caribbean, we had agreed that Price was going to tour, but there was an oversight on my part, I overlooked the list written down by convener of selectors (Makoni).

“He had deliberately omitted...Price’s name but I wasn’t looking for it, in my mind I thought it was there but there was obviously some horse trading going on and he ended up not playing in the One Dayers.”

Butcher believes Makoni had his own personal agendas when he needed to be fair as the convenor of selectors.

“I have to say that I was never under the impression that there was a quota system in place, certainly not an official one,” he says.

“In general the squad that was picked when I was there was pretty much half white and half black, usually on merit.

“So I never got the impression (that there was a quota system) until later, and I took that as Makoni’s personal agenda rather than the overall policy.

“I maybe wrong in that but that’s how it felt like. But suffice to say Makoni is not and never will be on my Christmas card list.”

Makoni, who has since been redeployed to the role of director of cricket development, denies Butcher’s accusations and dismissed it as sour grapes by the Englishman.

“He came, he coached and he did not bring the results and was fired; so to write a book and say such things is pathetic. I haven’t read the book and I don’t think I will have time to read it,” a dismissive Makoni told the Daily News.

“During my time as convener, we treated players the same; they were no players who were bigger than others, if somebody drops form they were dropped, if someone is performing they were promoted.

“In any setup, there are rules and regulations. Selection in Zim is based on stats, current form, team balance and experience, so all those factors are taken into consideration when you pick a side.”

Writing in his book, Butcher says when his contract was coming to an end, he decided to not to pursue a renewal due to his poisoned working relationship with Makoni.

“But when my contract came to an end, I had to sit down and have a stern talk to myself,” Butcher says.

“I didn’t know how I could keep working with Makoni it would just be a complete waste of time, waste of mental anguish and energy.”

The Briton also does not have any kind words for a number of white ex-cricketers that he feels are “Professors of Negativity” and will always be a stumbling block to the game’s development.

“White former players could be just as much as the problem with little or no empathy with what was happening in the lives of players,” he said.

“They (players) are not getting paid, ‘that’s not an issue, you shouldn’t think about that.’ But it affects players . . . A lot of those people did not want Zimbabwe to succeed which is very disappointing.

“I absolve Heath Streak and Grant Flower. They worked well with me but there were others, a group I found difficult to enjoy.

“I honestly think they thought they should be the coach and so made it difficult for anyone who was coaching the team, who at the time happened to be me.”

Butcher paints a gloomy outlook for local cricket as players are going through a lot in their personal lives due to ZC’s maladministration.

“There were periods when players did not get match fees for nearly two years, in fact they were not getting their salaries,” he says.

“So it was very difficult, coaches had to give players money to get them to training.

“There were players who were borrowing money to enable their young brothers and sisters to go to school.”

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