WITH the nation still trying to come to terms with the Cricket World Cup tragedy, great pressure has been brought to bear on the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) administration to resign en masse and allow new beginnings in the wake of the awfully unfortunate circumstances that have befell the game.
By Enock Muchinjo
Zimbabwe’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, the first time the African side will not be playing in the game’s premier showpiece since 1983, could have massive and far-reaching repercussions on the game in terms of finances and talent-drain.
Financially-troubled ZC in recent years offset its huge debts against revenue accrued from such tournaments as the 50-over World Cup, which provide a significant financial relief to Zimbabwe over a four-year cycle, and without it the local cricket governing body will be rendered considerably handicapped.
With the World Cup windfall blow likely to hit hard an already struggling organisation, players — who will have fresh memories of payment-related industrial action — will find the grim prospects of going through it all again not worth the time and energy.
This week, talismanic all-rounder Sikandar Raza could well have opened the lid on the disillusionment in the team when he hinted on quitting international cricket in the aftermath of the World Cup debacle.
It appears Zimbabwean cricket – which since the early 90s had enjoyed special privileges of automatic World Cup qualification and other benefits that came with being a Test nation and full member of the ICC — has now entered unchartered waters.
An avalanche of blame is being heaped on those entrusted with running the game in the country.
Perhaps the hardest hitting of the critics against the ZC administration has been the UK-based Patrick Gada, a former first-class cricketer now coaching in the structures of county side Nottinghamshire.
“They say where there is no vision people perish,” Gada wrote in a letter addressed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week.
“We could say Zimbabwe cricket perished when it failed to qualify for the 2019 World Cup against a part-time team (United Arab Emirates) a few days ago. However, the truth of the matter is that Zimbabwe Cricket perished a long time ago.
“Fingers are being pointed by the ZC board at the unilateral decision by selectors for the team they selected and the bad decisions made on the day. Yes, there was no need to change the team combination that had brought some success. We could partly blame the selectors as Tavengwa Mukuhlani (ZC chairman) has indicated in the Zimbabwe press. But Mukuhlani and his board have the disadvantage of not having any ground to stand on when blaming selectors. This is nothing but an exercise in deflecting attention from the real issues of incompetent administration.
“We need a new board made up of young forward thinking people who have a passion for the game. Young people who will provide fresh vision and take Zimbabwe Cricket in a different direction. We need a board that will be accountable to its players and adhere strictly to the rules of good corporate governance. What we need is honesty from the old board to acknowledge their shortcomings and do the right thing and step down. We do not want it to be a fight that will waste time.”
Former administrators who saw Zimbabwean cricket through its golden era have also spoken out against the current leadership, with one long-serving ex-director describing the World Cup blow as a “great pity” and calling for drastic measures to rescue the situation.
“I think that it is a great pity that Zimbabwe has not reached the finals of World Cup,”
“The cricket followers and the nation are extremely angry and disappointed. There is much apprehension on the future of the game. Our finances and development programmes could be seriously affected. The effect on cricket in Zimbabwe will be disastrous.
“I think if there are people to blame are those that took over the administration of ZC around 2001 thereabout.
Their bullying, and mismanagement and manipulation of the board and provinces have taken toll now. We need proper provincial boards that are elected and not handpicked by someone sitting on the board. The board too has to be elected. The present system where certain board members nominate their friends through patronage and nomination has been abused. The result is that we have a board that is incompetent and has no passion or understanding for the game. Provincial boards and affiliates must nominate board members and they should be elected at the AGM.”
Intense emotions have certainly been flowing since last week, but Robin Brown, the former national coach who played in Zimbabwe’s maiden World Cup in 1983, believes the problem lies in inadequate game time at the level below international cricket.
“I really feel for these kids, it’s a big blow not to qualify,” said Brown, who has also coached Kenya.
“But I feel we are playing little domestic cricket. . . it’s just international, international, international. We need a lot of league cricket. We need to play lots of league cricket and at least three Logan Cup games per month.
“In the 1980s and 1990s, by May, June, we already knew the fixtures for the following year, and most were fulfilled.
“I don’t like to talk about money…but getting to play lots of league and first-class cricket is hugely important. I don’t know if it costs a lot of money.”