THE departure of Heath Streak – or Captain Courageous as even the Herald, of all newspapers, was wont to call him – from the national cricket team at the behest of Peter Chingoka and his arrogant fellow administrators on the ZCU board is
just about the final straw.
Chingoka, who clings to the helm of cricket in this country like a barnacle to a rock and his board of administrators have always thought themselves bigger than the game which is why the players, the senior white players in particular, have found themselves in constant conflict with their “masters” over the past five years, to the great detriment of the sport.
Take for example, the recent request by the players for the services of Australian bowling coach Bruce Reid, which was turned down on the grounds of cost by a board which then promptly went ahead and spent three times as much on sending various of its members on a social jolly to the VB series in Australia last January.
The ZCU has become utterly obsessed with what they call “goals” – quotas by any other name – and it is this obsession which is destroying the very fabric of cricket in Zimbabwe. Anyone who challenges the ZCU’s holy text on transformation risks instant dismissal or public denigration as a racist.
Streak is merely the latest casualty of the ZCU’s insistence on “colour-balancing” the team, regardless of the consequences, but he is, by far, the most serious casualty since 1992 when Zimbabwe was first granted Test status by the ICC.
Not only was he at the pinnacle of his cricketing powers, but he and his vice-captain Tatenda Taibu had begun to form a valuable alliance both on and off the field, one which illuminated graphically the benefits of non-racial sport – or certainly had the appearance of doing so. The effect of his departure on the already shattered morale of a team which could barely subdue Bangladesh at the end of March will be painfully obvious during the upcoming tours by Sri Lanka and Australia.
Streak’s departure is only the tip of a very disturbing ice-berg. There are men aboard the ZCU’s sinking ship whose motives are alarmingly racist, men whose unpleasant influence is sustained and nurtured by the toxic political climate of the day. The sort of men who, after the second ODI against Bangladesh on March 12, barricaded the ZCU’s hapless CEO, Vince Hogg, into his office whilst at the same time threatening to dig up the pitch before Sunday’s final game if at least five blacks were not included in the side for that game.
These men, and they know very well who they are, have a single, malignant interest in cricket and that is the cleansing of white influence from the sport, in the boardroom and on the field.
Apparently even poor Robin Brown, ex-farmer and grounds manager at Harare Sports Club, has been sent packing after little more than a year in his new job.
They have, sadly for the game itself, enjoyed considerable success since the historic – from Zimbabwe’s perspective – 1999 World Cup in England, incidentally by far Zimbabwe’s most successful period since admission in 1992.
Gone after the England tour of 2000 were Murray Goodwin and Neil Johnson. Andy Flower, Guy Whittal and Alastair Campbell were huge scalps post-World Cup 2003 while along the way before that we saw the departure of the Strangs – Paul and Bryan.
Stuart Carlisle’s treatment at the hands of the mandarins of the ZCU would make a book all on its own and he too, will not be available for much longer, hopefully of his own volition and with his dignity intact. That leaves only Grant Flower as the last remaining symbol of the era so hated by the modern-day “reformers”.
Do not be surprised if, even as you read this, he has also gone, closely followed by the likes of Craig Wishart and Ray Price. Thereafter it will not make much difference who, of the few remaining white cricketers stays or goes, for the message will have gone out loudly and clearly – only token whites need apply.
Meanwhile, our cricket continues to go down the tubes. Within the space of a year this increasingly incompetent side has contrived to lose to both Kenya and Bangladesh, the two weakest sides in ODI cricket.
Streak, backed by a majority of his team, had demanded that the incumbent selection panel be changed to include people who had at least played first-class cricket themselves and, further, that selections to the national side be made purely on the basis of merit.
Reasonable requests anywhere else in the world of cricket were immediately interpreted as “racist” and the former captain had no choice but to back his words with action and depart.
Another sad chapter in the short but increasingly sordid history of international cricket in Zimbabwe has been closed on a most unsatisfactory note. And there, on the horizon, wait Sri Lanka and Australia. The mind boggles…
Peter Lovemore, firstname.lastname@example.org