Taibu, Mangongo speak on Muzarabani's departure

HARARE - Cricketing brains Tatenda Taibu, and Steven Mangongo have described youthful Zimbabwe pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani’s choice to quit international cricket as a big decision which comes with a lot of ripple effects.

Taibu sought to complement efforts of renowned junior cricket development stalwart Mangongo when he initiated the birth of the Zimbabwe Rising Stars Academy last year.

This was a five-year project that earmarked youngsters aged between 14 and 19 drawn from the country’s 10 provinces and beyond the borders getting at least half year’s attachment in Liverpool in UK. The last half of the year’s academy enrolment would be held at home.

Muzarabani was part of the first beneficiaries of this programme that has since got a vote of no confidence from ZC citing shortage of resources as their main reason for discontinuing the project just a year in operation.

Speaking from his England base, Taibu a former national team captain and ex-convenor of selectors said whatever decision young Muzarabani has made, he wishes him all the best in his endeavours. Muzarabani has played one Test, 18 one-day internationals and six Twenty20 internationals for Zimbabwe.

“Well it’s a big decision for Blessing which I’m quite certain he isn’t sure of fully being young. However, if one is playing international cricket and bear the pressure of international standards and country (expectations) one has got to be paid too,” Taibu told the Daily News.

“As far as I know Blessing played those matches without a contract.

The little I know Blessing from working with him for the Rising Stars Academy, he just wants to play cricket and be paid for doing so.

“That’s what a professional does right? You offer a service and you get your dues and life goes on. I wish him all the best.”

As ZC continues on a plebiscite long fermented by the inability to pay off loans borrowed from various financial institutions, players and staff have often bore the brunt of going for longer periods without getting salaries.

The International Cricket Council had to intervene recently through a controlled financial plan which has seen funds being availed to pay off the players’ salaries and match fees dating back to July last year when the country toured Sri Lanka.

As a result of this ZC has revealed a massive restructuring exercise that is set to see almost all staff with contracts ending this month not being renewed.

Mangongo, former national team and ex- U19 gaffer said Muzarabani’s decision can best be described in two fold.

“Firstly Zimbabwe always cry the loudest that our cricketers don’t get
quality international exposure especially at key developmental stage.

This is perfectly ideal for Blessing to develop and polish his skill in a highly professional setup rubbing shoulders with experienced international high performers,” Mangongo said.

“This challenge can only make him a hardened professional in the long run therefore it’s a lifetime opportunity for Blessing to better himself as a cricketer at the same time earning a decent wage for himself and his average family from humble surroundings of Highfield.

“The massive challenge is then that the ZC board must be run professionally such that these boys like Blessing in the long term feel the need and are attracted to come back and represent their motherland. Otherwise there’s danger that Blessing will be gone for good.”

Mangongo added that the buck stops with ZC to put their act together otherwise Zimbabwe will continue to be  a breeding ground for other developed nations.

“Look at Afghanistan who have gone past us, currently they have four players playing in highly competitive league. ZC does not operate in a vacuum, good players would be attracted to play in better leagues,” added Mangongo.

“If we look at football the giants of African soccer — Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana — the majority of their players are plying their trade in European Leagues so it’s not a new phenomenon. The buck is in ZC court that they must run the game efficiently so that lots of Zimbabwe cricketers are attracted to come back and wear the Zimbabwe bird once again.”

He said Taibu had a vision for development which ZC needed to tap on but sadly they lacked foresight.

“There are kids like Kundai Matigimu at a South Africa university as genuine fast bowler, Nic Welch playing at Surrey, a top order batsman and should be dying to play for their country.

“The question will be is ZC doing enough to get all these talented young guns back after all they went through Zimbabwe age group systems,” Mangongo said.

“There is no gap at all because Zimbabwe is being smashed left, right and centre at international stage so ZC board needs to remove its head which is stuck deep in the sand and vigorously develop players like what’s happening with Blessing.

“ZC needs a whole a group and not one player for the next two to three years so that it once again has players who are competitive at world stage.

“That’s where Taibu’s vision was excellent. Taibu was looking into the future; that’s creating players for the next World Cup qualifiers. You got to invest over a period of time in order to produce quality cricketers or any sports person for that matter.”

Announcing Muzarabani’s departure ZC spokesperson Darlington Majonga said “…Muzarabani has made himself unavailable for international cricket, opting to pursue his career options in England.

“As a result the 21-year-old fast bowler will not play for Zimbabwe in the limited-overs and Test series away to South Africa and Bangladesh scheduled for September…ZC wishes him well in his latest endeavours,” Majonga said.

Muzarabani said he felt the time was right for him to make a move.

“I wish my former team mates and ZC all the very best for the future.

I have been honoured to represent my country but feel this is an appropriate time for me to pursue other challenges both personally and professionally,” said Muzarabani.


Comments (1)

I applaud Muzarabani for such a wise decision - your well being and that of your family matters above everything else. ZC and Zimbabwean sport administration is a mess and no youngster is going to wait when opportunity knocks to go and earn a decent salary elsewhere and be appreciated. It will take a while for proper sport administrators to be in office and stop the rot in Zimbabwean sport. You have the potential to go to the top Muzarabani, knuckle down, work hard, stay humble and sober - the sky is the limit. Tendai Mtawarira, Takudzwa Ngwenya made the same tough decision, but today they do not regret it!

Daniel 5 - 21 August 2018

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