Zimbabwe Cricket top brass was yesterday grilled by parliamentarians over their decision to snub national team assistant coach Steve Mangongo in favour of Andy Waller as head coach.
ZC appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sports to enlighten the National Assembly on their activities.
Committee chairman Themba Mliswa, who is also MP for Hurungwe West, bombarded the ZC representatives that included chairman and vice Peter Chingoka and Wilson Manase respectively, as well as chief executive officer Wilfred Mukondiwa, with a barrage of questions.
But Mliswa and his team found their match in a well prepared ZC team which had answers for everything thrown at them.The two parties, however, found common ground on racial issues affecting the running of the game, mostly influenced by “invisible hands”.
The Mangongo issue was the main item of interest for the MPs after ZC made submissions on the way they are running the game and the problems they are facing.
“The game of cricket is now in the hands of blacks, the convener of selectors is black, why is it that Steve Mangongo who served as assistant coach under Alan Butcher and proved himself in the home tour against Bangladesh was overlooked in favour of someone else who was out of the system?” Mliswa queried.
“The logic is that Mangongo was employed to understudy Butcher with the view of taking over yet when the opportunity arose you guys looked elsewhere; are you saying he is not good enough?”
Manase responded by saying while Mangongo had been impressive especially when he led the team to a Test triumph and an ODI series win against Bangladesh, it is at interview level that he lost out to Waller.
“While we cannot go into detail about some of the things that we looked at in the interviews, we felt he (Mangongo)still needed a little bit of sharpening but the plan is that at some point he will get the job. It was a tough decision and we appreciate that he is a good coach and we deliberately delayed Waller’s appointment to give him a chance against Bangladesh.
But we also have to point out that we are not racists, we select players and technical staff on merit and nothing else. We are playing Test cricket and we have to be careful to preserve that.”
Manase added that on the issue of racism there was an “invisible hand that controlled players who themselves are not racists”.
“There are some elements that still have a racial hangover that control some of the (white) players. The players themselves are ok; they interact well with black players. But we have people who are working hard to make sure the game is disturbed in the country. They influence some of these players to leave so that ZC is blamed and they rush to international publications, particularly cricinfo, with stories demonising the administration.”
Chingoka added that they were making inroads towards reengagement with some of the countries that had ostracised them.
“We have had discussions with some boards so that we reengage; we will see what comes out in June or after, but we have made progress.”
Chingoka might have been referring to their relationship with the England and Wales Cricket Board who have been banned from any cricket engagements with Zimbabwe by their government.MP for Shurugwi South Tapiwa Matanganidze urged the cricket administrators to engage the European Union for help in normalising cricket relations between Zimbabwe and England.Other members of the committee that includes MP for Buhera West Oliver Mandipaka expressed concern at the lack of progress in taking the game to the masses.
Chingoka said all plans in that regard were being hindered by lack of funds, adding that it was their dream to have more cricket in the high density suburbs.