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The Honourable Thing To Do

THE present Zimbabwe Cricket administration doesn’t have a good track-record of making decisions that are good for the game.


Fine, they were pushed in a corner when they made the decision to withdraw from next year’s ICC World20 event in England.

But when the tantalising proposal was put to them that they would cash in on the financial proceeds of the tournament even without taking part, I was convinced not a thought was spared for Zimbabwe Cricket’s core business of playing cricket, for the players’ career aspirations to play in a World Cup –– for most of them, the only one they were ever going to play in –– and for the game itself.

But even to the hardest of its critics, the ZC board do make the odd laudable decision, never mind in most insistences it will not entirely be the result of their own good cricket judgement.

One such decision was the appointment of Robin Brown as national team coach in August last year. With years of technical experience as a national player of sound leadership qualities, then as a long-serving club and first-class coach, Brown was the ideal successor to Kevin Curran, whose “negative” approach was widely criticised in local cricket circles.

Brown came with a strong reputation as a superb tactician, excellent in analysing and dealing with the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. He conducted his coaching on a very individual basis, working on a timetable for each player to receive personal attention. He was just the right mentor to work with a group of green players.

Unlike Curran who asked the players to go and do little more than bat out the 50 overs without going for the kill, Brown’s approach was attacking cricket and infusing positive mindsets in the young players.

Soon Brown’s approach began to produce results. Zimbabwe posted a stunning victory over Australia at the first-ever World20 in South Africa last September, they gradually showed improved form in the MTN domestic championship, and although comprehensively beaten in an ODI series in Pakistan, they were not humiliated.

But within a year, Brown has been the source of two contrasting decisions by ZC. He was last week dismissed by ZC in a move far-removed from cricketing logic.

He was accused of favouritism and an edgy relationship with players. However, information to hand does not substantiate the vaguely-made claims. Brown paid the prize for challenging the top brass on the basis of cricket reasoning.

Brown, like previous professionals before him –– fired by the association or driven to resign in frustration –– just wanted to do his job. But having been in the ZC system himself for many years, he obviously was aware that attempting to knock sense into the heads of his superiors is viewed as undermining their positions, so must be done at one’s peril.

Also, that Brown was not a popular figure to an influential faction in ZC is not a secret in the organisation, and I am aware of manoeuvres to frustrate him even before the ink was dry on his contract.

ZC is quite proficient at brandishing the racial card when they want to have their way. Brown was accused of favouring white players. More than 90% of the Zimbabwe team is black. In fact, the few remaining white players, who represented Zimbabwe in the last 12 months, are actually key players.

Batsmen Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams’ talents are almost matchless. Pace bowler Gary Brent was the team’s most experienced and successful strike bowler before retiring a few months ago.

Spinner Ray Price has unquestionable international class. Needless to say they were all merit selections, and if anyone needed a favour from selectors or coach it certainly wasn’t any of them.

No wonder dishonesty theories are being invented to validate an indefensible decision. If the accusations against Brown are true, they need to be authenticated by the players themselves, and I am convinced there is none who can

They have fired the last three national coaches; players, grassroots coaches and proven administrators have either been purged or frustrated. Things haven’t got any better. In fact, with each passing month, Zimbabwe look agonisingly distant from a Test-return under this administration. Surely, the office-holders in the ZC top brass, the only people who have remained, have no one else to blame now apart from themselves.

Why do they want to continue to take a passionate cricket country for granted and drag the game to the brink of total collapse? Hasn’t the game suffered enough under their reign?

Surely someone must have the power to show them the exit. Or before anyone has to do that, they must resign. It’s the right thing to do.

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