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Ship without captain

AWAY from the symbolic pleasantries, bureaucratic procedure and diplomacy of carefully and well-constructed press statements — designed for public consumption — the International Cricket Council (ICC) really came out guns blazing in a candid assessment of the World Cup qualification tournament held in Zimbabwe in March.

By Enock Muchinjo

Those familiar with the culture of slapdash workmanship at Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) might have been overtaken by a lingering fear in the build-up and during the tournament, that something horribly wrong could happen and spoil what was supposed to be spectacle — Zimbabwe’s moment to shine before the world.

As if to dispel our worst fears, the tournament passed, on the face of it, without incident. Indeed, it seemed almost too good to be true.

And thanks to an ICC tournament report gleaned by this newspaper last week, we were able to get some insight into the shambolic behind-the-scenes events that could have so easily put into “jeopardy” a tournament the world cricket ruling body now describes as unsuccessful in so many ways.

At the end of not-so-flattering assessment by ICC were the tournament director, Local Organising Committee and senior management team of the games.

You have to feel for long-serving ZC senior staffer Chris Chiketa, the tournament director, who had to be condemned in such strong terms by the ICC in a brutally forthright manner.

Chiketa is an immensely likable chap whose administrative skills are well-respected even outside an organisation that has been, for far too long, a stranger to competence and sound corporate governance.

But it does not surprise me at all that he had to be branded by the ICC that way, as lacking strong “leadership” during the month-long tournament.
On the whole he is fairly effective behind the scenes, but those who know the man well will testify how personality-wise he was unsuitable for that mammoth task—driving the biggest sporting event ever staged in this country.

The thing is he is one of those really nice guys, totally unable to raise his voice or make people under him jump around a bit if need be, and when you are in charge of such a massive national project, that need is most certainly going to arise at some point.

It is such errors of judgment — putting Chiketa in that position — that has characterised ZC for the better part of 15 years and I also heard from a knowledgeable ex-administrator, after the story we published last week, how he quit his position on the local organising committee of one of the three host cities.
“After two meetings I just left because it was a joke,” he told me.

“Only one or two guys knew what they were doing and the chairman was clueless.”

Of all its ills, you still would not expect ZC to flout the simplest of ICC tournament requirements — the presence of senior management at matches. But with this ZC administration, anything is impossible.

Well, not that the World Cup qualifiers debacle would surprise anyone that has the remotest interest in how cricket has been governed in this country for the past 15 years.

But when you once again put everything together, like what many good cricketing people have been doing in love of their game and country, such horror shows as the one against Pakistan in Bulawayo on Wednesday cannot surely be viewed in isolation. As the saying goes, there is no normal sport in an abnormal society.

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