ZIMBABWE – Plain as day, the story of Zimbabwe Cricket is a tale of a cherished game that fell into the wrong hands and it is not surprising that the national team at present is a fractured outfit suffering from all manner of malaises.
With a lot of money at stake, the game in the country has become vulnerable to opportunists, conmen and it will be an act of treason to assume that the good of the game is at the forefront of official thinking with the current administration.
The current board was recently elected by a deeply flawed process where certain members of Zimbabwe Cricket’s executive self-appointed themselves as presiding officers at provincial elections and hand-picked provincial chairmen into office.
This move had the desired effect of stacking the deck to influence who sits on the board and, just like that, Wilson Manase and his determination to sweep the game clean of bad elements was removed from power.
The trio of a former chief executive who still calls the shots at the organization and his two runners are hell bent on pushing cricketing folk into the background while using game as a means of self-enrichment.
From the board down to the administration, Zimbabwe Cricket is full of a bunch of self-interested people lacking the vision and selflessness required to renew the game. Cricket cannot be a healthy and honest game unless it is properly run. Accountability is crucial and it has been in short supply.
With no direction being given by the incompetent and rudderless leadership, the players have lost the will to excel; instead they have resorted to the self-indulgence of fulfilling international fixtures merely to get remunerated to keep their personal lives afloat.
How can it continue to be business as usual when a Test ranked nation loses a home series and is on the verge of losing the corresponding away series to an associate nation?
Currently there is an illusion being created that the game is healthy and functioning, but one only needs to look at the so-called development programs being conducted at defunct facilities and run by coaches who have never experienced the pressures of cricket at the highest level to see that the game is chronically ill.
You could easily mistake the domestic franchise games being played around the country for a Sunday afternoon social league by virtue of the unprepared wickets notwithstanding the general lack of standards in the play itself. Ultimately, everything goes back to the quality of decisions taken and the caliber of the men involved.
The International Cricket council is torn between spreading the game and ensuring cricket remains competitive. The decision to create a fully meritocratic pathway into ICC’s Cricket World Cup and Champions Trophy events is as welcome as much as it spells danger for Zimbabwe.
The top eight sides on ODI Team Rankings as at 30 September 2017 will qualify automatically to the 2019 event, while the bottom four will play in the 10-team ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 that will determine the final two teams in the line-up.
With Ireland and Afghanistan showing signs of improvements, 2019 could be the last time we see cricket in Zimbabwe if governance issues are not addressed. Not qualifying for the world cup would have the disastrous consequences of not being entitled to the World Cup gratuity which is necessary to run the game. This is what led to Kenya’s demise.
Dave Whatmore has taken on a tough assignment, and he can’t leave now because he has been paid months in advance. His attempts to galvanize the team have been met with resistance from an incompetent administration that is not shy to interfere with the players to maintain autonomy.
Brushing aside the twin temptations of romance and sentiment, both cricket and Zimbabwe deserve better governance. Only those with empires to protect will resent these words.