ZIMBABWEAN cricket fans have been put out of their misery after the disastrous tour of Bangladesh ended on Wednesday with the final Twenty20 tie ending in familiar heavy defeat, and as the team heads back home in shame, the institutional problems that have annihilated the game in this country have been further exposed.
Again, we have been left having to answer several pertinent questions. One always dominates discussions: is there any hope of recovery for Zimbabwean cricket?
On this one, I refuse to be a pessimist. This game is part of our heritage and is here to stay.
But is this recovery easily attainable, and are we going to get there incident-free, without the kind of bickering we saw during the bitter battle for control of last year?
Now, this is a cause for major concern because the kind of recovery many of us envisage requires a top-to-bottom overhaul of the game in this country. Because of the many vested interests in the status quo of Zimcricket, I do not see that happening anytime soon.
A tormenting realisation for me during the internal strife of last year was to note that to people involved in Zimcricket these days, particularly those holding positions — quite a lot of them very good guys who love and know the game well — cricket no longer comes first. It’s now simply a matter of survival.
And it’s hard to blame them entirely, because those are the levels many otherwise decent people have been reduced to by the situation in the country.
Zimcricket right now is stuck in a very difficult position where change, instead of it being seen as bringing opportunities, is seen as a source of problems.
“What’s in it for me? What do I stand to lose?”
Last year at the height of the power struggle, one insider accosted me in the street and he was very concerned about his future — would a new administration deem him fit for his current position, or guarantee him a job at all?
While I terribly felt sorry for him, that he had to feel that way, because times are hard in Zimbabwe, his anxiety was somewhat justified because results under his watch hadn’t been satisfactory.
The biggest problem with this kind of insecurity is that it makes it hard to overcome vested interests and safeguard integrity in an environment like Zimcricket, leaving you weaker against competition because those in influencial positions are prone to making decisions that are not sound, but motivated by self-gain.
In this regard, one area quickly comes to mind: selection. Take a look at long-failed players that have been constantly selected for the national team in the past two years. Look at how some of them were also on the just-ended Bangladesh tour. And then you’ll also find some of these same failed players appearing on the squads list for the current tour here by English county teams Derbyshire and Durham.
Quite clearly now, in the eyes of many, there are vested interests at work here. As for the reasons behind it, I will leave it open to different opinion for now.
But what a strong case we have here for the need for Zimcricket to restore organisational integrity all-round in order to rise again.