A VIRGIN Airways plane sped off the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport on Wednesday night, preparing for take-off to Dehli, India.
Sports Panorama with Enock Muchinjo
Three days before, Pakistan’s cricket team had completed a crushing series whitewash over a makeshift Zimbabwe side in Bulawayo — sending all sorts of records tumbling on the way.
Across the planet three days later, inside that India-bound aircraft, sat one passenger whose mind might have wandered a bit, overly concerned about the faraway events of Bulawayo, and the future of the game in his beloved homeland.
Tatenda Taibu, the universally respected former Zimbabwe captain, was flying from England — his second home nowadays — on a VIP invitation to launch a state-of-the-art cricket academy situated in the eastern Indian city of Putna.
Taibu, until recently, his country’s chief selector, will be joined in Kolkata for Sunday’s grand opening of the Anshul Cricket Academy by main guest RP Singh — an Indian player — alongside two ex-Bangladesh stars, Habibul Bashar and Manjural Islam.
Such is the high esteem in which Taibu is held across the cricketing world that he has been given a position on the advisory committee of the academy alongside Singh, Bashar, Islam and two-time England Test player Aftab Habib.
Of course, in India, the biggest cricketing nation in the world, such recognition and appointments are not bestowed upon indiscriminately, and Taibu is no slouch at this game.
Take also Bashar, for instance. One of Bangladesh’s most successful captains in history, the Asian side really started to come into its own under his leadership with a string of famous wins over the world’s best teams.
Bashar is presently involved in selecting the Bangladesh team and is a revered figure in his country. His knowledge of the game — the ability to identify and nurture an international cricketer — is well respected and greatly treasured by a cricket board and country that are clear on the direction they want to take the game.
As for our history-making former captain, while his star has kept shining brightly in foreign lands, while he has continued to receive appointments abroad from serious cricket institutions that see the value and wealth of knowledge in a man like Taibu, his own country has turned its back on him.
In fact, those governing the game back home have made Taibu some kind of persona non grata because his outspoken deep understanding of the game intimidates them. He exposes their dearth of cricket knowledge and his unswerving frankness on the way forward makes them feel inadequate.
What particularly leaves a bad taste in the mouth is that the sacking of Taibu and others in the wake of Zimbabwe’s failure to qualify for the 2019 World Cup was done by a board which itself should have been the first casualty of that monumental disappointment, a disappointment that — in every aspect — is culmination of the long history of incompetence, corruption and mismanagement by those entrusted with the governance of cricket in this country.