A time bomb that has exploded

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IN the end, it was like coming to a grinding halt, a sudden engine failure that has led to a tragic crash.

Sports Panorama with Enock Muchinjo

But no, this was not really an abrupt ending as felt by the thousands inside Harare Sports Club, and indeed the millions across the nation, who had to endure the traumatic and teary experience of that fateful afternoon last Thursday.

To some of us, what we witnessed in the end was a culmination of things — the final explosion of a time bomb that had been ticking since around 2001 when Zimbabwean cricket fell prey to calculating and opportunist administrators lured by nothing but the scent of big monies then flooding into the coffers of the game, a greedy bunch hellbent on undoing all the stellar and selfless work of many years.

It is only when you meticulously take stock of events of the last 16 years that you realise how such a stunning and devastating ending — for the first time since 1983 excluded from the small exclusive group of nations that play in cricket’s World Cup — was inevitable.

The latest in a string of disappointments for Zimbabwean cricket is a particularly tough one to swallow, and the players are obviously beating themselves up pretty heavily. The pain feels like a tonne of bricks and it is quite understandable that in this state of shell-shock, with the wounds still fresh, no one seems to have a clear strategy yet on how cricket in this country can move on after this monumental disappointment.

What is clear as day, though, is that in the first step of moving on, heads must roll, beginning at the very top of administration, the board of Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC).

Time and time again I have made my feelings well-known about how the people in charge of cricket in this country do not have the game running through their veins. Because of this dearth of good cricketing brains, Zimbabwean cricket has departed from its origins and roots, going down a destructive path and leaving behind a deadly trail of devastation.

The game has traded its heritage and lost its soul at the hands of clueless administrators, and it is utterly cruel and horribly unfair that the fans have had to be subjected to this great emotional torment. Zimbabwean cricket has been forced to come full circle, similar to where it was in the pre-Test era of the 1980s, and what it needs now in order to reinvent itself is the spirit of dedication, drive and sacrifice embodied by the administrators of old — the kind of spirit and administrative skills that once made our country stand up with pride in the cricketing world. The revival of Zimbabwean cricket will rely, in no small measure, to a return to the basics on which the game was solidly built for over a century. This is why change at the top is thoroughly necessary — the basics we need to go back to are not naturally hardwired into those running the game at the moment. Cricket, as we know it, is an alien culture to those calling the shots at ZC, and that is extremely toxic for the game. In the midst of it all, let us hope that we do not get consumed with the heartache and disappointment of this very hurtful phase that we lose sight of a reinvented future we badly need now.

It is time to start afresh, face the flames that are currently engulfing the game and put out the fire — starting in the boardroom.

Getting burnt is not an option.

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