ZC Managing Director Ozias Bvute has spoken to explain ZC's withdrawal of an invitation to tour from Cricket Ireland. CI had been hoping to play a 4-day match and 3 ODIs against Zimbabwe later this year, until the invitation was withdrawn citing fixture congestion. Bvute clarified in an article carried in The Herald:
"Zimbabwe has a full international and domestic calendar this season and we are not obliged to play against Ireland. Our offer to arrange playing opportunities with them is spearheaded by nothing less than the spirit of sportsmanship and inclusion. With the Australian and South African A sides, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Pakistan all having confirmed to tour Zimbabwe between June and November this year there is simply no slot available to accommodate them in 2011."
"It is very unfortunate that recent media reports aim to portray Zimbabwe as unwilling to play against Ireland and insinuate that the reason is based on an attempt to ostracise them. Zimbabwe has suffered greatly from the politics of exclusion and we would not wish that on any one."
Can't help but think that "we are not obliged to play" comment will come back to haunt him some day. Many sides have played Zimbabwe over the past few years who were "not obliged to play", and our already-sparse fixture list would have been very bare without them - I can't help but think we should be returning the favour.
The Herald - Bvute on schedule
UPDATE: Both Zimbabwe Cricket and Cricket Ireland have been speaking further regarding the purported withdrawal of Zimbabwe's invitation to Ireland to tour, and it seems that "withdrawn" is not the word we should be using. A press release issued by ZC this afternoon states that an alternative date is currently on the table:
Cricket Ireland can confirm that when they toured here in September we voluntarily made them an offer to arrange fixtures against them and have since been in communication with their administrators. Our last correspondence proposed January 2012 as a possible date.
Meanwhile, Cricket Ireland's Chief Executive, Warren Deutrom, has spoken out in support of ZC and Ozias Bvute in the matter, in comments reported by CricInfo:
"In the recent Chief Executives Committee meeting, [Ozias Bvute] was extremely supportive of the associates and spoke out strongly in their favour. There is nothing sinister in this whatsoever. We were initially in conversation about travelling to Zimbabwe at the end of the year, but as one of the smaller Full Member nations, they have to wait for the bigger members to organise their own schedules. Simply, there was a clash between the time we wanted to come down, and the contractual obligations they are required to fulfil through the FTP."
So, I back down somewhat from my earlier disappointment over the situation, and hope that the two boards can reach agreement over tour dates sooner rather than later.
CricInfo - Zimbabwe are not the enemy, confirms Ireland chief
At least the Women's World Cup still deserves the name. ZC have named a provisional 20-member squad for the qualifying tournament, which will take place in Bangladesh in November, with South Africa and Zimbabwe being the sole African representatives. The squad was chosen after the completing of the women's inter-provincial competition, which took place in Harare last week. The squad is:
Julia Chibhabha, Precious Marange, Sharye Saili, Monalisa Chimutashu, Audrey Mazvishaya (Mashonaland Eagles); Sharne Meyers, Tazmeen Granger, Noreen Tshuma (Matebeleland Tuskers); Ashly Ndiraya, Thandolwenkosi Mlilo, Christabel Chatonzwa, Nyasha Guzeni, Sarah Dambanevana (Midwest Rhinos); Ashly Burdett, Nonhlanhla Nyathi, Sinikiwe Mpofu, Ruvarashe Chinyemba, Privilege Charumbira (Southern Rocks); Chipo Mugeri, Pelagia Mujaja (Mountaineers)
ZC's inter-provincial women's tournament is currently taking place in Harare, with matches being played at both Old Hararians and Sunrise sports clubs, and so far Southern Rocks are top of the heap. Here are the results so far:
Rhinos v Tuskers: Rhinos won by 6 wickets. Ndiraya 20*, Mlilo 16*, Nkomo 4-0-11-3
Rock v Mountaineers: Rocks won by 84 runs. Mpofu 6-1-6-4, Nyathi 29, Kudzibatira 26
Mountaineers v Rhinos: Mountaineers 23 runs. Mujaji 9-2-32-4, Mugeri 21, Ganyaupfu 14
Eagles v Rocks: Rocks won by 34 runs. Chinyemba 32, Mpofu 5-1-12-4
Rocks v Tuskers: Rocks won by 51 runs. Tshuma 10-1-24-7, Nyathi 12, Burdette 9-3-11-6
Mountaineers v Eagles: Mountaineers won 49 runs. Chimutashu 10-5-9-4, Mujaji 9.5-3-13-6
Rhino v Rocks: Rocks won by 15 runs. Mlilo 53, Nkomo 36, Chinyemba 57
Eagles v Tuskers: Eagles won by 60 runs. Jinjika 27*, Mupachikwa 19, Magariadzo 5.1-1-11-5
The ICC have confirmed in a short statement following the ICC Executive Board meeting on 4 April that the next World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand in 2015, will be restricted to the ten Full Member sides only, with Associate sides such as Ireland and Netherland, who both impressed at the tournament just ended, excluded from the event. The 2019 event will include a qualification process that will allow the Associates back in, while later tournaments will be based on position in the new ODI League, which will include provision for promotion and relegation.
Allow me to put my fan hat on for a moment, and throw impartiality out the window for a moment. I should also point out here that, while I'm first and foremost a Zimbabwe fan, I'm also an Ireland supporter. With that said...
Here are the problems with this:
- you cannot call a tournament a "World Cup" if participation is restricted to 10 defined nations. That's the Champions Trophy remit, not the World Cup's. To be truly a "World Cup", every cricket-playing nation should have a chance, however unlikely, of qualifying - for the past two World Cups the World Cricket League has provided that, it no longer does.
- it's a travesty that, in a 10-nation world cup, the 11th-ranked nation (Zimbabwe) is given a free pass into the competition at the expense of the 10th-ranked (Ireland). And believe me, the other nations in the World Cup will not let us forget this, especially if we were to perform in the next World Cup the way we did in the one just ended.
- fine, the path for Associates is reopened from 2019 - but that's 8 years away, and without the promise of the World Cup, maintaining interest and participation in the sport of cricket will not be easy. Rising participation in Ireland has been on the back of the side's World Cup upsets in 2011 and 2007, they'll be out of the limelight now for 8 years. The publicity gained from World Cup participation is irreplaceable.
- the sop offered to Associates by way of compensation is increased representation at the World Twenty20. Playing T20 will not help these sides develop.
The key issue here is the perception of fairness. The ICCs decision unfairly excludes the Associates, particularly Ireland based on their current world ranking. A qualifying tournament including, say, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh plus the top 4 Associates would remove that perception (and I have enough confidence in Zimbabwe's playing standards to be confident that we would qualify from such a tournament), leaving the fate of Associate representation at the World Cup in the hands of the Associates - if they play to the required standard, they'll be rewarded with a place. But to simply slam the door in the faces of those countries - who the ICC are supposed to be supporting the development of and especially when they were involved in many of the most exciting games of the last tournament, seems short-sighted at best.
The ICC spends most of their news release singing the praises of the 2009 World Cup, and the huge success it has been, before cutting off one of the reasons for that success. I hope the ICC will reconsider.
ICC - ICC Executive Board meets in Mumbai
Troubled former Zim batsman Mark Vermeulen has put his bats away and taken up golf, according to the Zimbabwe Independent - he will be taking part in the Zimbabwe Amateur Tournament in late April and hopes to take up the sport professionally. He had a few parting shots to make at cricket in Zimbabwe, though, accusing officials of holding him back and of the game being a "joke" in Zim:
"Everyone has been holding me back — the administrators and the umpires — so I have decided I can do something better with my life. I dreamt of playing in the national team again and representing the country in the Tests but I am quitting to pursue a career in golf."
"Everything is a joke at cricket now; we have five teams yet considering the number of competitive players that we have, I think we should only have three teams playing first class cricket so that there is competition. Players are getting first class hundreds that they do not deserve facing schoolboys. Eighty percent of the players are a joke and most of the umpires are a joke."
Vermeulen was fired by Mountaineers last month after what could be described as another adverse reaction to an umpiring decision, the latest in a string of such incidents over the course of a troubled career - which makes it hard to know if his outburst is a genuine opinion, or a reaction to percieved injustice. Either way, we wish him well - at least there are no umpires in golf...
Zimbabwe Independent - Vermeulen tries golf
You'd think that when you were struggling for form the last thing you'd want to do would be find another distraction, but Zim captain Elton Chigumbura has found one, through opening a new cricket academy in Harare, targetting children of primary school age whose schools do not have cricket programmes of their own. It's his way of giving back to the sport, he told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview:
"I have gained so much from playing the game, so I thought I should give back in a big way. I love cricket so much that even when I stop playing I will still be a big fan so I am contributing in my own way to make sure that the future of the sport in the country is bright. We have the Interfin Bank Cricket Academy catering for secondary and high school students and I thought we should have something for the primary schools so that we generate interest at an earlier stage."
It's planned that the academy will be based in Borrowdale, and will initially be funded by Chigumbura himself, although corporate sponsorship is also being sought. Elton is already involved in a holiday scheme at Prince Edward School, along with Prosper Utesya, Tinashe Panyangara, Craig Ervine, Graeme Cremer and Hamilton Masakadza, that provides free coaching to children of 7-12 years old.
Cricinfo - Chigumbura plans to open cricket academy
Matabeleland Tuskers are the new Logan Cup champions. Depleted, without five of their key players, they beat the previously undefeated Mountaineers by 18 runs, a remarkable achievement. The key factor was their swing bowler Keegan Meth, who has been steadily improving throughout the season and now seems to have instilled fear into the hearts of opposing batsmen with his deceptive swerve and accuracy. In this match he took 13 wickets at a cost of only 108 runs, besides playing a second innings of 65 runs, and if ever one man won a match for this team, this was the occasion.
It was clear at the start of the day that the result of the match would most likely hinge on the result of the battle between Hamilton Masakadza and Meth – and Meth won handsomely. Masakadza off-drove a single off Keith Dabengwa in the second over of the day to take the home side’s total to 100, which brought him to face Meth in the next over. He pushed fatally outside the off stump, edged a catch to the wicketkeeper and departed for 14, to scenes of jubilation from the fielders. As it turned out, this was the point where they won the match. Again, though, they were excessively noisy in the field, especially early on.
It was now the responsibility of the rest of the Mountaineers team to stand up and show they were not totally reliant on Masakadza in a tight situation – and this for the most part they dismally failed to do. The experienced South African Jon Beukes was one batsman who might have stood in the gap for Mountaineers, as he ran to 16 confident runs off 14 balls, with three fours, but he was then given out lbw on the front foot to Meth, and now the middle order surrendered meekly. Donald Tiripano, the night-watchman, had held an end up grimly for almost an hour, but edged a low catch to second slip off Meth to depart for 5 off 42 balls. Prosper Utseya, who has often been a man for a crisis in the past, was this time another lbw victim to Meth for a single, and Benjy Katsande lasted only three balls before edging to the keeper. Seven were now down for 125, the point of no return had been passed, and the last four wickets had fallen for seven runs in four overs.
Meth must have been tiring, but he kept bowling. At last Timycen Maruma and Shingi Masakadza showed some defiance, keeping out Meth and starting to attack Dabengwa, who had been blocking up the other end. Dabengwa as captain now faced the dilemma of whether to continue with Meth or give him a break for a while, but just as decision time was imminent, Meth struck again. Shingi Masakadza had been trying to counter his movement and upset his length by going down the pitch to him, which brought the keeper up to the stumps; the batsman did it once too often and was stumped for 17; eight down for 155.
Maruma now decided to take advantage of the wearied bowler, now in his eleventh over, smiting him for two mighty leg-side sixes in succession. In the meantime Dabengwa gave way to Chris Mpofu, but Tendai Chatara gave Maruma unexpected support, with five well-selected boundary hits off the fast man. They survived until lunch, and then Tawanda Mupariwa replaced the exhausted Meth; he quickly produced a rising ball that Maruma, on 36, edged at an awkward throat height to the keeper, who dropped it. After two overs by Mupariwa, Dabengwa brought back Meth, but he no longer had the power to terrorize; the batsmen could now play him like any other bowler and kept the scoreboard ticking over comfortably. Mountaineers supporters began to entertain delusions of victory.
When Maruma reached an admirable fifty, only another 24 runs were needed to win. But, tragically, a mix-up between the batsmen led to his being run out for 51 and the fighting partnership of 69 was ended. Natsai Mushangwe tried to hit out, but was caught in the outfield off Mpofu and the Logan Cup went to Matabeleland Tuskers. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 195 (68.2 overs; Mabuza 54, Mushangwe 3/44) & 290 (103.3 overs; Meth 65, Utseya 2/37), Mountaineers 239 (67.2 overs; H Masakadza 119, Meth 6/40) & 228 (63 overs; Mlambo 68, Meth 7/69). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 18 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
You may recall we reported a while back that the Times of India had reported that Zimbabwe's World Cup opener against Australia had been the subject of an investigation by the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit, on the basis of Australia's low run-rate. The ICC made no comment at the time, but the ToI repeated the allegation in an article (now withdrawn) posted yesterday, which did draw a response in the form of a statement from ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat, carried on the ICC website:
Following the publication of a false article by the Times of India correspondent Mr Prashant Dayal in the Ahmedabad edition on Tuesday, ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat has made the following statement.
"An article by Mr Dayal in yesterday's newspaper made a number of claims about an ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 match between Australia and Zimbabwe that can only be described as fictional.
"We do not comment on the activities of the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) and for good reason. However, after several misleading and downright false stories appearing in recent weeks it is time for us to show our displeasure and expose those responsible for affecting the integrity of the media.
"It is also patently false of the reporter to claim that the ICC ever suggested to it that the match was corrupted. The ICC confirms that, in terms of its policy, at no stage did anyone from the ICC speak to the journalist on this topic.
"To uphold the integrity of the media I expect Mr Dayal and the Times of India to retract such baseless stories."
The Times of India have since issued a retraction (in their paper edition, not on their website but quoted on the ICC website):
"The Times Of India carried a story on its website on March 22 alleging that the match between Australia and Zimbabwe had been spot-fixed. We apologise to Australia, Cricket Australia and the ICC for any embarrassment caused by this. We also accept that at no stage has the ICC ever confirmed or suggested the match was fixed. The story has since been taken off the website."
Wot, no apology for Zimbabwe?
The Dubai U19 tourney, originally scheduled for late-April, has been postponed following the withdrawal of the South African and Australian sides. It's hoped the event can be rescheduled for a later date, but no confirmations at the moment.
HMetro - U-19 Dubai tour postponed
ZC MD Ozias Bvute has been speaking to the Zimbabwe Independent in the aftermath of Zim's world cup campaign - the paper have picked on one particular comment that could make you think ZC are about to dump on their players again:
Zimbabwe Cricket chief Ozias Bvute has blamed the rich pickings in the game for destroying the will to succeed for local players. A national team player earns an average of US$6 000 a month, excluding incentives. Despite being knocked out of the World Cup at the first hurdle, each member of the squad was guaranteed of US$20 000, for their participation.
Two things here: first, the comment seems to have been taken rather out of context, as Bvute goes on to discuss what ZC are doing to address playing standards and the clear issues that the side has shown. But there are two things that need to be pointed out here: first, that Zimbabwe's cricketing players are amongst the lowest paid in Full Member cricket, and if you expect to field an international side you have to reqard them accordingly; and that, ultimately, Zimbabwe were seeded 5th in Group A, and finished 5th in Group A - in other words, our results were exactly what our world ranking predicted they would be. That we didn't perform well in the games we lost was without question, but equally winning any of those matches would have constituted an upset.
As ever, reading the full article is well worth it. As disappointed as we may be after failing to reach the quarter-finals, though, it's time to back off the side a little and let the post-mortem take place with a little less vitriol than there seems to be in some quarters.
Zimbabwe Independent - ‘Rich pickings’ threaten cricket