THE Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) chairman Peter Chingoka this week said it was a slur to suggest that his team had been politically vetted to make sure none of his players did anything to upset P
resident Robert Mugabe.
Chingoka was responding to a report in The Observer newspaper that the squad had been “cleansed” so that players would not follow the example of Andy Flower and Henry Olonga during the World Cup co-hosted by Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya.
The two stars wore black armbands to protest the “death of democracy” under Mugabe’s regime, stating that opposition leaders were repeatedly arrested and half the population – some 6,7 million – faced starvation.
Both Flower and Olonga have retired from international cricket but fast bowler Olonga said he had to flee the country to get away from Mugabe’s secret police.
Chingoka refuted The Observer story and said the squad was based on ability and potential.
“It is both insulting and inaccurate to suggest that this Zimbabwe squad has been politically vetted, as has been suggested throughout the tour by protest groups and now by The Observer newspaper,” he said.
“I denied this slur when we arrived in the UK on the 1st of May and have stated on many occasions since that the squad’s selection is based on the identification of young talent and future cricketing potential.
“The ZCU would prefer not to dignify these unpleasant claims with a public response of this nature. But as the same misinformation continues to be circulated it is important to set the record straight, for the benefit of the team and the many thousands of fans who have followed this tour as genuine cricket lovers,” said Chingoka, whose team lost the first Test at Lord’s by an innings at 92 runs.
The second Test started at Durham yesterday.
“ZCU selectors were solely responsible for the makeup of this squad. It was chosen without political intervention. Zimbabwe cricket is in a transitional stage and the basis for selection was the identification of talent and potential for the future, as has been the case with several other international teams since the end of the World Cup. The only player not in the squad who we believe would have merited inclusion is Andy Flower, a world class performer,” Chingoka said.
“Recent players who have criticized the team should look at their own performances over an extended period of time as the real reason they were not selected,” he added. – The Observer.