I want to bring change to ZC - Taibu

HARARE - Our cricket correspondent Dean du Plessis caught up with new Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) convener of selectors Tatenda Taibu to discuss about his return to the game after a four-year hiatus.

Below are excerpts of the interview    

Q: Well Tatenda, I think I should start off by welcoming you back. Where have you been all this time?

A: Thanks Dean. It’s always good to be around people you know. I’ve been in Liverpool where I’m assisting a school to filter in players from a club.

I’m also assisting a club whose clubhouse was burnt down several years ago and a lot of the players left — they are now rebuilding.

So, I like building something that’s falling and it’s the same situation with ZC. I thought there are a lot of people who have built ZC to be where it is. To just let it drop dead is unfair to those people who put in a lot of effort and energy.      

Q: When you left cricket in 2011, you pretty much made it clear that you have turned your back on the game for good. Was that misinterpreted at that particular time when you decided to follow your faith and belief in God? Was it that you truly believed you were done with cricket?

A: There was nothing about maybe one day I would come back because I had a calling in my heart and I just followed the calling. I really shut down all the doors for everything else and I wanted to put all my concentration on this calling I had.

For four years I learnt a lot of things. I got to a situation where my heart was right with God. I got to a situation where I found peace in my heart and a lot other things I did not expect happened during that time.

Praying for people who doctors would have given up on and seeing them live longer. I don’t even remember how it feels like to wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

I found that and thought I can now accommodate other things. That calling from God asked me to help out other people and be able to offer an encouraging hand to someone that is struggling in life.

I don’t have to be in a certain environment for that to happen. I can be in another country like Asia, I could be in Europe, in Africa doing that. Definitely there was a lot of misinterpretation that I was going to work and earn a living from a church which definitely was wrong.

I have never received a single cent for the work I do for the Lord. If anything, I use my money and I never ask for anything in return. Now, I can still be able to do this whilst I attend to my other commitments.

Q: That’s a fascinating tale. Which was nicer scoring a hundred for Zimbabwe against South Africa or doing work for the Lord?

A: When you score a hundred against a big team like Australia, South Africa, India you name it; that satisfaction lasts for a day or two at most and then you are back again to where you are practising getting ready for the next game.

You simply forget it in time to come. But when you do something that is life changing — when someone has lost hope and even the doctors saying “You know we can’t do anything anymore” and you touch the life of that person, it lasts forever.

Even speaking about it now revives my soul. I can speak about a hundred against South Africa and the feeling has long gone; it’s just a memory that remains but a life-changing experience can never be forgotten; it’s priceless.

Q: You are obviously very happy with the work you are doing away from cricket. Were you approached for the chief selector’s job or you volunteered for the position when it came up?

A: Ever since I stopped, they (ZC) have been trying to get me back as a player or administrator and I kept blocking it. When I do something, I want to do it 100 percent so I didn’t want any other disturbances. I saw the benefits that (spiritual work) it was giving me and I kept turning them (ZC) down.

I turned  the offers down, not because I was focussing on that spiritual path but because I did not see that I had an answer to the problems ZC was facing.

I thought it would be pointless to accept a role in ZC when I don’t have an answer. If I’m going to accept anything then I must have an answer in my heart alone as opposed to just taking up the role.

Then I was approached maybe three months after that when I had been thinking about what would I try and change from where we are to beating teams that are ranked higher than us consistently not just a one-off win.

I then asked (Tavengwa) Mukuhlani that “If you give me the convener’s job alone I will turn it down but let me be the convener-consultant so I can get my hands in certain positions where I can build some pillars and make sure that the end result, which is the team performance, I have got a little bit of an insight and I’ll be able to change one or two things to make the results positive”.

They agreed and the other thing I said “Just be honest and upfront with me. If I ask a question about anything just let me know exactly how things are”.

That’s how best I know I can do things. If I know how the situation is like, I can work my way around it.

Q: Your other role besides being the convener is to try and convince former players playing cricket overseas or whatever the case maybe to come back in any role as a player or coach. Obviously, you cannot divulge much but have you had any success?

A: Well, what I have done so far is that I have spoken to a few players. I have spoken to Brendan Taylor, Kyle Jarvis, Solomon Mire but I’m yet to speak to Sean Ervine. I’ve spoken to a couple of other guys in South Africa like Njabulo Ncube but the relationship I have with these players is they just know me as Tatenda.

Whether I’m liked or not liked, I just present the situation like it is. The situation with these players I’ve mentioned is that they will take my word.

I want to get to a situation where I get to know what is going on and the route that we are going to take. I will be able to tell them the route that we are taking and I know they will take my word if they are to come back with all the other things in place.

So, at that moment, I wasn’t spending much time in the country and I was not able to get my fingers in those said areas, I’m still doing that. I’ve got a bit more time here this time around and once that’s done I’ll be able to sit down with the said players and see if we can get to a conclusion.

Q: It’s interesting that you said you don’t get to spend a lot of time here at home. There will be a few people out there who would say “How come Taibu gets to be convenor and doesn’t spend a great deal of time in the country? A chairman of selectors should have his fingers on the pulse during domestic action, when the A side is playing and so on in order to have an idea of which players to be in the national team”.

A: Initially, when the job was offered to me, part of the reasons why I was refusing to come back was because of the fact that I was going to be away for some time until my autobiography was out.

But they said “Look, you are the only name that keeps coming up when people are being asked about selection when there’s not any racial thoughts to it. The only name that is trusted by blacks, Asians and whites is you. Any other name that came up for the chairman of selectors there was a bit of problem with it”.

I said “I can understand that but I’m not around. So if I’m not around how will I do the job?”

They then said “If you are able to watch a bit of cricket and in the Zimbabwean community everyone knows everyone in the cricket circles.

“You will be able to know what’s going within a few months — like who’s playing well, who deserves to be selected and things like that”.

I sat down with the coaches and said I need strong communication and to be up to date when I’m not available. The time that I could have been unavailable is already past now.

I will be here for a couple of months then go back to England for a few weeks to see my family.

As opposed to spending a few weeks here and months away, it’s now the other way round. I will be spending significant time here and I’ve structured it in such a way that the times I’m away there will be hardly any cricket here and I will not miss anything.

Q: Zimbabwe will be playing a lot of cricket in the coming months with Pakistan A, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. What realistically would you like to see by the time the last ball is bowled after this period?

A: The first thing that I’m trying to put together is to have harmony within the team and the organisation.

If we get that then we would have a team in the real sense of a team where there is that togetherness and everyone is pulling in the same direction.

What I mean by that is that if we can ever get to a stage where if player X is not selected and player B is selected.

Player X will back player B to go and do a job for Zimbabwe.

As opposed to player X saying “I could be doing a better job than player B”.

If I’m able to do that, then I know the base I want to have is there. No one will be able to stop us from achieving what we want to achieve.

At the moment, what I want to do is have a strong foundation on the field and a strong foundation on the administration side.

We are really not starting from scratch. The pillars have been there but there has been a lot of selfishness, there are people who have not been doing their jobs and there has been some mismanagement of funds.

I want to remove all that and I know, from there on, the cricket side will take care of itself. In the end, a player will go out just thinking about the ball that is coming if he’s a batsman or the ball he’s bowling if he’s a bowler and about the catch that’s coming if he’s a fielder. With the talent we have, once you get a player to do that the results will come.

Q: It must have been nerve-wrecking when you read the articles that players are not getting paid on time or lack of payment, did you not hesitate and ask “What am I getting myself into now?”

A: I struggle to even spell the word fear. One day when you read my life story and see the struggles I had to go through, you would understand that fear is one thing I’m not acquainted to.

A lot of faith is the only thing I’m acquainted to. I hardly fear anything to be very honest. I never thought of that.

I only read or see what is happening and immediately start focusing on what needs to be done. People are always asking me “How come you don’t look to age one bit and I say, I don’t look at what has already been done It’s already done and you can’t change it”.

When I make a decision, I don’t go too far ahead and think what if it doesn’t work what will be the implications?

This is not a rehearsal; a decision has to be made now.

Tomorrow will take care of itself. I cannot change what happened yesterday. We can only learn from what happened yesterday.

I have no fear and I’m trying to have a personal relationship with every player. One thing I know which has been problematic is communication.

Information didn’t come from wherever it was supposed to come from and go straight to the person that is supposed to go.

It was going through a third person and was being distorted by the time it got to the intended destination.

I’m trying to let the people know exactly what the real situation is like and what I’m trying to do and the problems that we are facing and the good things that are there.

From there a person is not really left wondering or is told something and something else happens.

From there we will be able to get where we want to go.

Comments (2)

Find the audio of this interview here:

Jon - 10 October 2016


Jon - 10 October 2016

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