Zimbabwe’s national cricket team’s biggest critics have already dismissed talk of a quarter-final berth as a quixotic quest that will only end in further disappointment for the ever hopeful fans.
Candid Comment with Kevin Mapasure
Developments in the run-up to the team’s departure for New Zealand on Wednesday raised hopes that the team would provide a glorious throwback of past World Cup shocks and progress to the prestigious last eight. Yet events a few minutes before the players boarded their South African-bound flight where they would connect to Sydney and eventually New Zealand, left most fans despirited.
Despite recording many disappointing results, cricket fanatics had earlier in the week turned up at Harare’s Town House to meet and mingle with the squad before they flew out.
At Town House, the players met their admirers and the running theme was that the team would shed sweat and blood for the fans and the flag. Photo journalists had a busy day clicking away as fans took advantage of the rare occasion.
The team’s group photo while they adorned their immaculate attire, portrayed the unified force they should be.
But beneath that well-choreographed camaraderie for the cheesy Kodak moments, the players were plotting against each other and the boil erupted at the Harare International Airport — of all places. They could hardly mask the problems that have been fragmenting the camp, hardly something they needed considering the task at hand.
Negativity should be avoided at this stage but the scene at the airport raised questions such as: What if they go there and lose to Ireland and all the Test-playing nations in their pool, who is going to sympathise with them? Would they convince anyone they put in their best?
Coach, Dave Whatmore, said in sport sometimes it’s not the results that matter, but the effort invested. So if they fail on this mission, will they tell the nation that they did their best when they delayed their departure while discussing how to share the proceeds from the excursion?
There is no doubt their remuneration is important and they were always going to differ on who gets what, but to do it in the public glare and just minutes before take-off to such an important tournament, shows where their real focus is.
The issue should have been resolved away from the public and certainly away from the cameras. With this kind of attitude, only a top-eight finish will convince the die-hard fans and the nation generally that perhaps enough effort was invested.
After Zimbabwe Cricket tabled a US$650 000 pay package for the travelling 15 players and five non-travelling reserves, as well as hiring a World Cup-winning coach, Whatmore, in addition to a batting, bowling and fielding coach, they have no excuses not to deliver. If they stumble in the early stages, they certainly cannot blame it on lack of remuneration or lack of guidance, but have only themselves to blame.
Nobody should tell the players how to share their cake, but if four players think they should have half of it to themselves, its plain selfish and they should show the same measure of greed by way of runs and wickets.