Independent Sports View With Enock Muchinjo
SO it looks like talks between Heath Streak and his fellow rebel players and the ad hoc committees are still on going and pro
gressing in the right direction with hopes that the players might be back in the national team soon.
In negotiations with some of the remaining rebels, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) is still sticking to its stance that the former players return unconditionally, while on their side the rebels still want selectors convener Macsood Ebrahim and ZC managing director Ozias Bvute kicked out.
Last week the international media reported that seven of the rebel players had agreed to play national league cricket, assuming that it would pave their way back into the national team. But merely agreeing to play national league is not a guarantee by the rebels that they will now be available for national team selection.
It appears that the decision to play for their clubs in the national league by the seven, Streak, Craig Wishart, Andy Blignaut, Raymond Price, Stuart Carlisle, Trevor Gripper and Neil Ferreira, was only a statement meant to prove that they were still committed to Zimbabwean cricket.
The rebels, no matter how the ad hoc committee convinces them otherwise, seem not ready to let bygones be bygones and relax their conditions for coming back.
The return of the rebels to national league cricket is nonetheless a positive development on the domestic game. Experienced players are crucial in the development of cricket for any country that wants to be taken seriously and see its cricket improve.
The experienced players guide the younger players and pass on their expertise to them as they break into the senior teams to become the next generation of international cricketers.
It is a permanent feature in countries like Australia, South Africa and India to see former first-class and national team players, well into their forties, still playing domestic cricket years after international retirement. Experience is something that cannot be substituted for in cricket.
Now that the rebels will play national league, it is generally agreed that the rebels, for the good of the game, should just come back to the international arena and bury their hatchet with ZC.
The mistrust between ZC and the rebels is not getting their negotiations anywhere and it high time both parties realise that cricket is bigger than any of them and stopped behaving like life-time adversaries.
Presently, Bvute is in firm control of ZC in his capacity as managing director, while Ebrahim is very much in the thick of things in national teams selection. As things stand, Bvute and Ebrahim are not going anywhere, a situation which makes the rebels conditions for coming back a lot difficult.
When the International Cricket Council (ICC) absolved ZC of racism charges pressed by the rebels last year, it recommended that ZC chairman Peter Chingoka and his vice Justice Ahmed Ebrahim address issues of emotionalism shown by some of the ZC directors. This was of course in reference to Bvute and Ebrahim who the rebels accused of racial aggression instead of pursuing racial integration in the national team.
ZC, as a matter of fact, is under no obligation to undertake the ICC recommendations. The rebels will have to grasp this reality and decide their future in Zimbabwe cricket once and for all.
The ad hoc committee will use all its professional ingenuity in trying to bring the two sides to a common understanding, but the ball still remains in both the rebels and ZC’s court. Both sides should now take a knock on the face and forego all the selfish pride and mistrust in each other.
By continuing to hammer on the Ebrahim/Bvute matter, the rebels risk having their goodwill questioned. Ebrahim and Bvute are just two individuals in the cricket set-up and are not the custodians of Zimbabwe cricket. One is coerced to sympathise with the rebels’ fears.
But after widely publicised accusations of political agendas, racial prejudice and even violent behaviour, the cricket world now has its gaze firmly fixed on Zimbabwe cricket and no person in the ZC can afford any more mischief, which may prove costly to them.
Two of the former rebels, Barney Rogers and Gavin Ewing, have already come back to the national team. Rogers and Ewing are young professional cricketers who have realised they have a promising future in international cricket in spite of everything that has happened.
If the remaining rebel players return to international cricket, the ZC/players dispute might just turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Zimbabwe cricket.
We have already identified the best players among the current youthful national team. If blended with world-class players like Streak, Price and Wishart, Zimbabwe can have a strong team that can hold its own against the best in the world.
The rebels and ZC must give each other another chance.