Quotes & views on Mugabe, Zimbabwe & England

Some excellent quotes here courtesy of The Guardian Unlimited

Daily Mirror
Editorial, November 26

“Just because Robert Mugabe has lifted his ban on cricket writers does not mean his regime is acceptable. It isn’t. It is still bloody, violent, disgraceful and tyrannical … That is why the Daily Mirror is refusing to let our cricket writer go there to report England’s matches

“The situation over this tour has been created by disgraceful buck-passing by the British government and cricket authorities. The cricket board says it is up to the government to stop the team going to Zimbabwe. What spineless nonsense. The government says it must not interfere in sport. What a scandalous refusal to accept responsibility … No one comes out of this sordid episode with credit. If there is a winner, it is Mr Mugabe, who has been able to grant the favour of allowing cricket journalists in – though not any who would report what is going on in his country.”

John Etheridge
Sun, November 26

“The England and Wales Cricket Board chairman David Morgan’s personal crusade has eventually made sure England’s cricketers must set foot in the African nation ruled by [the] reviled dictator Mr Mugabe. But at what cost? If there are protests or violence because of the cricket, Mr Morgan will have blood on his hands …

“[The players] only agreed to tour in the first place because Mr Morgan convinced them that withdrawing could lead to England’s suspension from international cricket and cost millions of pounds. Nobody really believes this. Yet Mr Morgan continues to exert a type of emotional blackmail, warning cricketers they could bankrupt the game. The people who insisted the players must go to Zimbabwe apparently believe money is more important than morals.”

Simon Barnes
Times, November 26

“Mr Morgan is not exactly the first choice for villain of the piece here. No, that clearly and unambiguously is Mr Mugabe himself … [Mr Morgan] has been forced into [the tour] by the anti-England tendency of the ICC [cricket's governing body]. No one in the ICC is prepared to consider that this is exactly what Mr Mugabe wants of them. Rather worse, no one in the ICC has felt that support for a murderous dictator is not morally sound …

“England has no right to any kind of special treatment, only recognition of the fact that for the former colonies, all brushes with the Mother Country carry a piquancy that is not duplicated elsewhere … Therefore, an English cricket tour is particularly attractive to, say, mischief-making, murderous dictators. And if Zimbabwe’s actual cricket team is in a poor state, never mind: the scoring of political points by Mr Mugabe will afford him deep pleasure and give added confidence to his absurd and deadly regime.”

Henry Blofeld
Daily Express, November 26

“Why … have Mr Mugabe and his supporters in that pusillanimous body, the ICC, been allowed to get away with [this]? The ICC, which in my view is effectively controlled by that powerful financial block of subcontinental countries, India, Pakistan and the rest, has fallen over backwards to cause English cricket as much embarrass ment as it can. Under its present milk-and-water leadership, English cricket has allowed its hands to be tied behind its back …

“It’s all been about getting one back over the old colonial rulers. Cricket’s bosses round the world have been wringing their hands in glee at England’s discomfort. And, to their great joy, England’s administrators have jumped through every hoop that has been held up for them just like a pack of of well-bred poodles … The whole thing has been just about the most sickening thing ever to happen to the game of cricket in its long and, until now, magnificent history.”

Bruce Wilson
Courier Mail, Australia November 26

“The answer is simple enough: Zimbabwe is now told to get lost by the cricketing world. Mr Mugabe is, technically and officially, the head of cricket in Zimbabwe, although the murderous old Stalinist probably wouldn’t know silly-mid-off from the Comintern. His crimes certainly rival those of South Africa’s old white supremacists and cricket eventually isolated them until they came to their senses. Zimbabwe long ago lost any right to play the game internationally on any grounds you might like to consider. Perhaps the main one is this: For political reasons they cannot pick their first XI.”

David Mellor
Evening Standard, London, November 26

“Because the fundamental immorality of the tour has never registered with the MCC’s old farts, the argument has always proceeded on entirely false premises. Eighteen months ago [at the World Cup] it was security, a non-issue, since the only people not at risk in Zimbabwe were the England team. Today it is press accreditation, a mere sideshow, just a symptom of the arbitrary way tyrants like Mr Mugabe behave.

“Every opportunity to withdraw has been spurned. Mr Mugabe and his henchman are banned from visiting Europe, but some of our top sportsmen are being blaggarded into visiting him. With cricket itself incapable of acting on the moral dimension shouldn’t the government have stepped in? Of course they should. That’s what governments are for.”

England go back

In a wall in Zimbabwe.

Graeme Smith has been run over by a car

[via BBC]

South Africa captain Graeme Smith is in doubt for the second Test against India after a car ran over his foot.

And!

Smith was walking towards the team hotel after practice when the chauffeur of his car unintentionally drove over his right toe, witnesses said.

Note to self:

    must not laugh at South Africans run over by cars.

Kumble closing in on Kapil

Anil Kumble

Anil Kumble is just 4 wickets away from breaking Kapil Dev’s record. (incidentally, just noticed at Cricinfo that his full name is Kapildev Ramlal Nikhanj). A marvellous achievment from Kumble, one of my favourite bowlers and who I modelled my action on when I was bowling.

Meanwhile, the 2nd Test is due to start in about 16 hours. As usual India are under pressure(!) to win, especially as they were considered favourites at the start of the series. South Africa’s tactics in the 1st Test were one of defence and obdurity – more interested in saving the Test and not even thinking about winning it. Their lack of confidence with themselves is remarkable – it wasn’t long ago they had Pollock & Donald, an awesome fast-bowling combination, and were the only team who could take Australia to 4/5 days. This new mindset bodes well for England’s trip in a month’s time – how will SA cope with England’s attacking play?

It’ll be interesting to see if India can really attack tomorrow from the outset, and dominate the match from ball one.

England to play 4 not 5 ODIs v Zim

OK so England will play their first ODI against Zim on Sunday in Harare. The ZCU complained of the severe financial loss they would concede at the loss of one of the matches (20%). England’s reply? Time has been wasted, and it’s not our fault – my God, is this the ECB actually making a point for once?

Justin Langer’s hundred verus New Zealand

An excellent hundred, albeit against a New Zealand team in decline. Their “attack” doesn’t stand up to much, especially against one of the best batting lineups in the last 20 years.

Langer recorded his 20th Test Century – a very special achievment, joining The Elite; Ponting, Inzy, Richards, Boon, Boycott, Tendulkar, Gavaskar….Lara, of course. To name but a few.

[These snippets via Cricinfo]

On the heat
I feel pretty good and we’re in a pretty good position. I started cramping – I tend to do that at Adelaide – after lunch and that probably affected my concentration. But that went away and I felt pretty good.

On the century
I don’t think it’s one of my best. Besides the first couple of overs and a couple with the second new ball, it was a gritty innings. But my balance was really good because footwork is one area of my game that I’ve had to improve over the last 12 to 18 months.

On it being his 20th hundred
Statistics are a really funny thing in cricket. When you are playing the game they mean a lot. I spoke to Tugga [Steve Waugh] a couple of months ago and he said that in retirement statistics mean nothing. While I’m playing and getting paid to score runs it means I hopefully get a game next week.

On the pitch
It’s a very good wicket and is actually getting more carry than I’ve seen before. I’m not sure it’s going to get up and down. We’re going to have to give ourselves plenty of time to get 20 New Zealand wickets.

On Hayden’s caught-and-bowled
It was a big banging double noise so he must have thought that he’d thumped it into the ground. He was probably hoping it was a bump ball because he was starting to hit it pretty well. I thought it was out.

On using the third umpire for a catch
I’m not saying it was obvious, but it looked to me that it was it probably out. The umpires did the right thing. If the technology is there they might as well use it.

On New Zealand’s performance
They fought hard all day. Jacob Oram is an outstanding cricketer to bowl that economically on that track. Chris Martin runs in hard all day and hasn’t had that much luck, but definitely has the spirit.

On their mood in the field
They were a bit quiet, but I’m not sure how they play. They had a tough week last week, it was 38 degrees or so, they lost the toss on a good wicket. They did an admirable job.

On his run-burst in the first two overs
I keep telling Haydos that he’s the blocker and I am the aggressor. I can’t believe he’s playing one-day cricket and I’m not. [The rooms laughs loudly] He knows how I feel about this.

Slinky Minki

Enjoyable article at BBC about the gorgeous Minki van der Westhuizen
, girlfriend of SA Captain G.Smith. I now have a non-cricketing reason to hate him – hurrah!

Zimbabwe tour back on

Looks like England’s tour of Zimbabwe is back on.

The Zimbabwe government said it had lifted the ban and blamed the delay on insufficient information being provided by the journalists.

[via BBC]

What information was delayed? One of the most confusing and ridiculous things about this media ban was Mugabe didn’t refuse The Daily Mail. They’ve been one of the most aggressive and leading anti-Mugabe newspapers – perhaps Mr Mugabe confused the amount of content being written about his regime/govenment as being complimentary.

Lillee quitting Cricket Australia (and “Pace Australia”)

Forgot to post this last night. Lillee is probably the foremost authority on pace bowling – and, importantly, in pace-bowling coaching – but he’s not being paid enough, apparently, and is stepping away from Cricket Australia. More hereand here

Great shame for Australia, and I wonder who will get him? Not England – no money, and we already have Lillee’s understudy Troy Cooley [see previous blog]. I think he’d be most tempted with India or Pakistan – but West Indies is where he should go! Start to find some new Ambroses, Marshalls, Garners & Holdings…put West Indies cricket back on the map with some terrifying fast bowlers (oh – and ban Basketball whilst you’re at it, Dennis…)