Zimbabwe rename themselves

I’ve decided to paste this in full, to make it more likely that people reading my blog will read the article here, from the UK’s Telegraph. I can’t quite beleive what I’m reading.

Cricket in Zimbabwe has lurched into another crisis, this time over the governing body’s decision to change their name from the Zimbabwe Cricket Union to Zimbabwe Cricket.

The rebranding exercise is said to have cost £67,000 – a huge sum in Zimbabwe – at a time when allowances for players and umpires have been cut, some players have been forced to sleep in brothels during away games and major sponsors Nissan have pulled out.

It is also alleged that Zimbabwe Cricket spent “another fortune” on flying all board members and staff to Bulawayo to watch the third one-day international against England earlier this month.

The renaming exercise has caused most offence, however, and was described as “the last straw” by Claudius Mukandiwa, who represents players in Mashonaland, Zimbabwe’s most powerful cricketing province.

The Mashonaland Cricket Association are now calling for a special meeting on Dec 22 so that they can propose a motion of no confidence in Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka and his 12-strong board of directors, an action which has led to the suspension of all domestic first-class cricket.

Zimbabwe’s biggest club, Takashinga, have called for an urgent public meeting to be held tomorrow and have invited Chingoka and Ozias Bvute, Zimbabwe Cricket’s acting managing director, to attend.

The invitations said: “You can lie to some people for some time but you can’t lie to all the people all the time.”

Cyprian Mandenge, a member of the Mashonaland board and spokesman, said a clean-up in the administration of Zimbabwe Cricket was urgently needed. He added: “They do things in the way of the Mafia.”

England beat Zimbabwe 4-0

England are just about to complete a 4 nil whitewash over Zimbabwe. Job done, England – get out of there ASAP and get over to SA for the serious business.

Bell hits debut half century

Well played Ian Bell today. Can’t have been an easy week with all the political distractions, and the added pressure (albeit against the weakest side in international cricket) of it being his debut. He made an excellent 70, testament to his sound temprament and orthodox approach to batting

Vaughan to pull England from tour if Mugabe shows up

This is my tenth year of following Cricket. I haven’t missed many matches, perhaps 5 or 6, and I can’t remember any sporting situation so disasterous as the one England finds itself in currently. Michael Vaughan, as was rumoured yesterday will – in the event of Mugabe appearing at any of the matches – walk his side off the field, and the tour will be officially over. Apparently, the ECB are rapidly sourcing some backup funds (how the Cricketing Administration of the world would love to be Football Administrators – if only for a day!) in the event of a financial backlash (ZCU asking for compensation, that sort of thing). Utter mess. Countdown to ODI1, 7 hours (starts 07.30ish GMT).

4-0 please England. Nothing less do you deserve.

Darrell Hair refuses to umpire in Zimbabwe

Although Zimbabwe Cricket is indesputably on the rocks, this latest announcement surely puts their future as a cricketing nation in genuine doubt. From The Sunday Times

It has also emerged that the Australian umpire Darrell Hair, a member of the ICC’s international panel due to stand in the second game on Wednesday, has told the ICC that he does not want to officiate in matches in Zimbabwe again.

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.

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.

England on the verge of cancelling Zimbabwe tour

England, as has been announced in the newswires, has cancelled their flight to Harare. They took a flight from Namibia to Johannesburg where they will now be sat twiddling their thumbs.

What next? Surely the tour is on the verge of being cancelled now. But what an utter mess – a sad day for Cricket and sport in general.

ECB & ICC hold responsibility

Well, the rumblings of the Eng-Zim tour “rumble” on this morning. Jonathan Agnew is obviously quite bitter at having been banned entering Zimbabwe, and makes some interesting comments on his BBC column:

No one has run a more vehement anti-Zimbabwe campaign over several years than the Daily Mail, yet all three journalists from that organisation who applied for accreditation have been accepted!

I can’t even find it amusing any longer – this HAS TO BE CALLED OFF. It’s amoral, wrong and damaging English Cricket. Tony Blair and the British Government say it’s down to the ECB and ICC – how can it be? They’re Cricket authorities, not political departments.

On a similar note, I’m sure I read recently that England have been “forced” to host Zim for a Test series. I’ll have to do some digging, can’t find the link, but I’m sure I read this.