BULAWAYO cricket fans and followers are quite expectedly, riled and disappointed by the unfortunate decision by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to move the second Test between Zimbabwe and Pakistan from its original venue, Queens Sports Club to Harare Sports Club.
On The Ball with Innocent Kurwa
As a result of the switch, Harare now hosts the whole seven-match Pakistan tour.
In announcing the switch of venues on Tuesday, ZC said a final venue inspection of Queens had apparently shown the arena was not ready and it had been agreed with the host franchise Tuskers of Bulawayo that the Test be moved to Harare.
This presumably suggests that there is something below the required standards with the wickets at Queens and/or the rest of the cricket facilities at the club.
If it is true that there is something amiss, to the extent that ZC found it necessary to move venues for the second Test, then this is quite an indictment on the host franchise Tuskers as well as the management and grounds people at Queens.
Cricket is certainly the main source of revenue for Queens and it becomes questionable if this stream is neglected.
But reports suggest the switch of venues has nothing to do with any shortcomings at Queens, but is a result of the financial mess that ZC is immersed in at present — a mess that has apparently caused the postponement of a tour by Sri Lanka which was set to start next month.
Commenting on the switch of venues, former national player and Matabeleland Tuskers star Sean Ervine argued that Queens had the best cricket facilities in the country and the real reason for the change of venues had something to do with finances.
“It is a disgrace! ZC has blown its funding on things unrelated to cricket and, therefore, cricket will be the loser in the end. The facilities (at Queens) are great, the practice nets are far better than the Harare ones,” Ervine said.
Alluding to the storm that Zimbabwe cricket finds itself in at present, Ervine said: “ . . . if ZC do not sort out the many issues that are so obvious to see for everyone and not trying to sweep everything under the carpet, the love of cricket will disappear (my own order). Cricket must be the winner and number one priority.”
This coming from an individual who is intimately linked to cricket says a lot and tells us that there is a lot of dirt under the carpets at the ZC offices!
Well, the recent boycott of training by national players and the postponement of the Sri Lanka tour confirm, to a large extent, that there is a basket full of problems at ZC and it is time the ZC chief executive officer (CEO) Wilfred Mukondiwa, the ZC board and everyone else involved in the running of cricket in this country, got to grips with the real issues and tackled them head-on.
In the meantime, good luck to Zimbabwe in the second Test.
Cricket aside, attention this afternoon, a little of it though, switches to the Zimbabwe national soccer team, the Warriors, who clash with Mozambique in a dead rubber 2014 World Cup qualifying tie at Rufaro Stadium.
Both hosts and visitors are out of contention in Group G where Egypt and Guinea are fighting for a ticket into the final qualifying round and the match is simply one to make up the required numbers!
Pride may also be at stake and Zimbabwe are using this match to start putting together the squad for next year’s African Nations Championships (Chan) finals in South Africa.
The international friendly match against South Africa to be played in Johannesburg on Tuesday will also be used to try out different player combinations as part of the build-up to Chan.
Former president of the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe and former CEO of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, Robert Mutsauki, now ensconced in the Nigerian capital city Abuja as technical director of the Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa, has asked the question most Zimbabweans have always asked since independence in 1980 when sports scholarships became fashionable — Are these scholarships yielding the desired results?
Rather the question must be rephrased — Are these scholarships benefiting the country?
The answer is a big NO. Why? Give me one or two names of people that have gone to these scholarships and have hoisted the Zimbabwe flag high at international competitions in their chosen discipline.
What is amazing, however, is that it needs Mutsauki, who the country would rely on in terms of identifying beneficiaries of sports scholarships, to relocate to Abuja for him to question a system which, to all intents and purposes, appears to be a reward system for patronage of one form or another!
Of course, the scholarships have been a success — tongue in cheek — in that they have afforded the recipients a chance to resettle in the United States, for that is where most of them have gone, and are, to borrow Mutsauki’s words, happily married there, but is that the benefit the country was looking for in awarding these people with the sports scholarships.
Again a big NO! Let us rest the case!