Collapso cricket at the wrong time
THE West Indies have shown off their Twenty20 skills by losing to Zimbabwe, but they expect success as hosts of the ICC World Twenty20 in May -- at the discipline of partying.
Preparations are well advanced for the tournament in Guyana, St Lucia, Barbados and St Kitts from on April 30-May 16, the director Robert Bryan is confident the Caribbean is ready to give visitors and teams a good experience.
Bryan, a Jamaican, felt that the excitement was building up in the West Indies. "We’re definitely ready to ‘Bring It’," he said. "We’re expecting full houses so we get maximum capacity in the various venues across the West Indies. I think the ICC World Twenty20 will capture the fun, excitement and unique flavour of the Caribbean. I think we do believe there is no better place to throw a party than the West Indies. We’re looking forward to a really competitive series of matches."
Not that the West Indies team can start as favourites, even with the presence of Chris Gayle, probably the world's best batsman in this format. Without their captain they failed to chase down Zimbabwe's total of 105 all out in Trinidad on Feb 28, finishing on 79 for seven like prep school cricketers. Ottis Gibson, their embarrassed new coach, assured the media his team had not been complacent.
Earlier in the month in Australia the West Indies lost both 20-over games, even with Gayle at the front. The Hobart margin was 38 runs, but at Sydney the Australians won by eight wickets when they pssed 138 in only 11.4 overs. David Warner, the left-hander of Durham, Delhi Daredevils and new South Wales, smashed seven sixes in his 67 off 29 balls.
So the heat remained on Gibson, another Durham man, for the visit of Zimbabwe as supposed no-hopers, though the presence of Dave Houghton among the visiting management should always make the write-off men wary. Eight Zimbabwe batsmen failed to score, with left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn returning 4-2-6-4 on a slow pitch, but the West Indies fared worse, managing only three fours and a six in their 20 overs. Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer took 3-11 in four overs.
Perhaps the West Indians should stick to partying, which they do so well by reputation. For spectators, though, it might be worth a trip as ticket prices are low and the hotels should have learnt from the failure of their rip-off strategy in the 2007 World Cup.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Zimbabwe: Stop ICC dollars
CRICKET, most notably the ICC, still does nothing about the genocide in Zimbabwe. They cannot stop Mugabe's orchestrated campaign of terror and murder, but they can draw attention to it by suspending all connections with the regime.
While the ICC normally attempt to avoid national politics, quite rightly, the Zimbabwe situation is absolutely exceptional. The ICC member countries should issue forceful condemnations. Funding must be stopped immediately, because the American dollars clearly cannot now find their way to cricket.
Below is a recent article written by 'Sue', unchecked for authenticity, taken from the website www.zimbabwesituation.com
Somehow she seems to have gained access to a laptop in her deprivation, but this is a letter that might well have been written:
An oldie white Zimbabwean has her say
EVERY story is different. I am 70 years of age. My husband died on May 30 this year and I was left destitute because his only child, from a previous marriage did not want to share any inheritance. Suffice to say, I had no option but to survive, and the only way I could do so was to sell my furniture, my jewellery and anything else I had just to earn some valuable US dollars. The house in which I live, was purchased by my husband's company and with careful saving, growing my own vegetables and limiting myself to one meal a day, I've kept going.
I am luckier than most, but only because I still have the ability to 'make a plan'. I couldn't afford a dentist, so I pulled my own teeth. I couldn't afford a doctor, so I stitched a dog's bite on my arm with needle and thread. I look after an African family who have nothing - all seven of them - ensuring they get food, medication and whatever else I can find to keep them going. I have a young white family living in cottage, with their two babies - and a young bachelor, living in a thatched rondavel, whose salary doesn't even cover his basic needs - and together we form a 'family' keeping our eyes out for each other and doing the best we can can to keep going.
And - yes, we old biddies ARE PROUD! We have every reason to be. The only thing I have plenty of, is loneliness and spare time, and I have already put out feelers to join up with some NGO to go to the rural areas to help with the cholera epidemic. I am not a qualiified nurse - but I care deeply and I know how desperate the situation is outside. I have not had much luck, because possibly they think me 'too old'. But I am not. My whole life has been directed towards looking after disabled servicemen, orphans, and now the indigenous folk of this country.
The author of this article must not forget that there are those of us who are fighting not only for our own lives but for those of our countrymen. Most of the posh cars seen on the roads belong to Government personnel who have more than you can imagine to spend on themselves.
How did I manage it? Well, let me tell you. Before my husband passed away, he decided to sell his antique furniture and only one cabinet was sold. I held onto that money, even though it meant going hungry and bit by bit over the months that followed, I was able to keep adding to that money by painting and selling my work.
I heard of two old people who lived in a disused staff quarters. They used to own a house and a car, but found themselves with nothing when they had their land and their home stolen. A kind African let them live in a shed on his property. On their anniversary the wife went out and sold her jewellery and her wedding ring. She and her husband of over forty years decided they would have one last night out on the 'town' and they went to a hotel and had a great dinner, dancing to music of their past. When the 'party was over' they returned to the broken down shack, curled up into their blankets on the stone floor, and shared a glass of the wine they had left from their night out, and the left-overs. They poisoned themselves and they were found together holding each other in their arms as they couldn't bear to see another day.
Remember,. every story is different. I am still here. I refuse to let go. There are too many people left in this country who need compassion, care, and hope to go on.
There are organisations and charitable groups who try to help, but the solution lies with all of us here - black and white and coloured - to start caring for each other and we try. It takes more than courage,.it takes fury and grief to explode into action. I have taken in people who have had their families murdered in cold blood, and experienced such fear you cannot imagine it the enormity of it. I have sat up through the nights watching the house and listening for intruders. There are so few of us left now - hardly even 2,000, as you state. But we are still here and we won't leave until this is done.
Today, in the main city of this country I ventured, and I saw a populace of 'stick figures' robotically going about their business, faces closed and dull. Starvations, AIDS, cholera, anthrax,. extreme poverty, has robbed them of all hope. It was not all those years ago, we saw glossy fat women with their babies. Today I did not see one small child on the back of a mother. The High Court was empty today. No staff. So I could not get along with the Estate of my late husband, but that no longer seems so important. Everywhere we see the portrait of Robert Mugabe in every government building, but nobody looks at it much any more. Fly speckled and faded from the sun, he just hangs there as a reminder of the horrors he can impose if we don't do what he demands.
I live not far from Government House, and in the past we could hear the screeching, wailing sirens of his entourage proclaiming 'the master' is in our presence. Today, there is less fanfare and more secrecy of his journeys because he is afraid - and that's good! We've been afraid for too damn long. And that fear has persisted as babies died, wives abducted and hideously bludgeoned to death in nearby fields. This is Zimbabwe.
I am a white widow. I have no intention of leaving this land in which I have spent my entire life. I belong here as much as my darker skinned country man. I love this country, and the people who inhabit it. And that is why I am a proud Zimbabwean. Every day we receive a small gift - be it a couple of tomatoes from someone's garden, or a small bunch of flowers - that's Christmas. We are poor, but we are richer in other senses. Nobody can understand unless they go through the torments this country has faced over many years. We yearn for some light at the end of the tunnel, but we refuse to pick up arms and kill others as we have been killed. We wait for justice, but not from us; from a power beyond our capacity. It will come. Perhaps the world can learn from us...
To all those who live elsewhere and who have never experienced the deprivation that just one man can dole out to millions, let me tell you, it is a testing experience that does not scream out for compassion, nor for money, but hope of a better time one day. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for caring for those who cannot care for themselves. It's this that makes the world a better place. There are many here who do what they can to make the 'oldies' leave this vicious world, feeling loved regardless of their colour.
This is just my story. Multiply it a thousand times - and include the human greed that makes it harder for us to withstand the hardships, but which is prevalent in all humanity regardless of race and creed. Above all, learn from it, because - but for the Grace of God there goes You.
An old White Zimbabwean!
The latest news from Zimbabwe:
Posted by Charlie Randall
Malcolm Speed and the ICC clash
THE former International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed has said in a newspaper interview that clashes with the ICC president Ray Mali over Zimbabwe led to the loss of his job in April this year.
Speaking in the Sydney Morning Herald
, Speed disclosed that he could not accept a decision by the ICC board to take no action after an investigation by the accountants KPMG had uncovered financial irregularities within Zimbabwe Cricket. When the issue was first raised in October 2007, he had a "angry and bitter" exchange with Mali. "This caused our previously friendly relationship to break down irretrievably," he said.
"In March 2008 the ICC board reviewed the KPMG forensic report into the finances of Zimbabwe Cricket. The report showed that there had been irregularities in the finances of Zimbabwe Cricket. The ICC board resolved to take no further action on the basis that the KPMG report did not prove that any individual within ZC had profited.
"Sir John Anderson, the New Zealand Cricket chairman, and I had vigorously opposed this decision at the board meeting. As a director of ICC, I was bound by the decision. I elected not to attend a press conference with Mr Mali on the evening of the board meeting, as had been previously arranged, where this decision was to be announced. In failing to attend the press conference, I knew that there was a risk that I would be sacked.
"Six weeks later, in April 2008, after an informal gathering of directors in Bangalore for the launch of the Indian Premier League, I was requested to go on 'gardening leave' for the last eight weeks of my contract as a result of fundamental disagreement with the ICC president and other board members over issues that included Zimbabwe."
Speed in his interview he made the point that the ICC voting was not dominated by an Asian bloc led by India. He said: "Cricket's unique selling point is the passion for cricket by Indians - cricket is the most popular sport by a factor of about 30 in the second-most populous country in the world. This should be seen as a major positive. The game needs to find ways to use that unique selling point. There is too much fear of an Indian takeover and the power of the Indian administrators.
"In recent years, Australia has been a very close ally of India in major strategic decisions - perhaps its closest ally. There is a lot of speculation about the Asian bloc in cricket. This occurs rarely. In the past few years, Australia has been more likely to vote with India than some of the Asian countries. India's vote has the same value as Australia's and the other full member countries.
"If there is concern about irresponsible use of power, there are processes in place to deal with this, and the other countries should take firm positions and make them clear."
Speed, a lawyer by training, said he enjoyed his seven years with the ICC. "International cricket is a very political landscape, and managing a sport that is as complex as cricket is a difficult job," he said. "It is an ever-changing jigsaw puzzle that revolves around a great game that is dear to many supporters, a complex and large business, vastly diverse cultures and interesting and, at times, difficult people - players, administrators and business partners.
"Add to this a governance structure that is less than perfect and aggressive media interest in the machinations of the game and it provides a fascinating challenge to those entrusted with the task of managing cricket. Crises, controversies and excitement are never far from the surface, sometimes all at once. Cricket has an uncanny knack of creating drama.
"I sought to perform my role without fear or favour, acting in the best interests of the game. The current ICC president, David Morgan, is a fine man who is doing an excellent job in difficult circumstances, made significantly more difficult by the current economic crisis and the terrorist attacks last week in Mumbai. I am confident that my successor as chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, will manage his role with distinction and the game will continue to prosper. My passion for cricket and sport in general are undiminished."
Posted by Charlie
Zimbabwe: 'Genocide is reality'
WHILE the ICC review their recent inspection of facilities and cricket infrastructure in Zimbabwe, the sinister cloud covering the country is becoming ever darker. Genocide is no longer a prospect, it is happening under the Harare-based Mugabe government, according to one Zimbabwean in the following email letter.
Edward Everett Hale writes:
"I reckon that these are the last days of TKM and ZPF. The darkest hour is always before dawn. We are all terrified at what they are going to destroy next.
I mean they are actually ploughing down brick and mortar houses, and one family with twin boys of 10 had no chance of salvaging anything when 100 riot police came in with AK47s and bulldozers and demolished their beautiful house - 5 bedrooms and pine ceilings - because it was 'too close to the airport', so we are feeling extremely insecure right now.
I am aware that this does not help you sleep at night, but if you do not know, how can you help? Even if you put us in your own mental ring of light and send your guardian angels to be with us - that is a help -but I feel so cut off from you all knowing I cannot tell you what's going on here simply because you will feel uncomfortable. There is no ways we can leave here, so that is not an option.
I ask that you all pray for us in the way that you know how, and let me know that you are thinking of us and sending out positive vibes... that's all. You can't just be in denial and pretend/believe it's not going on.
To be frank with you, it's genocide in the making and if you do not believe me, read the Genocide Report by Amnesty International, which says we are - in level 7 (level 8 is after it's happened and everyone is in denial).
If you don't want me to tell you these things, how bad it is, then it means you have not dealt with your own fear, but it does not help me to think you are turning your back on our situation. We need you, please, to get the news OUT that we are all in a fearfully dangerous situation here. Too many people turn their backs and say 'oh well, that's what happens in Africa'.
This government has gone mad
and you need to help us publicise our plight -- or how can we be rescued? It's a reality! The petrol queues are a reality, the pall of smoke all around our city is a reality, the thousands of homeless people sleeping outside in 0 Celsius with no food, water, shelter and bedding are a reality. Today a family approached me, brother of the gardener's wife with two small children. Their home was trashed and they will have to sleep outside. We already support eight adult people and a child on this property, and electricity is going up next month by 250 per cent, as is water.
How can I take on another family of four? And yet how can I turn them away to sleep out in the open?
I am not asking you for money or a ticket out of here - I am asking you to face the fact that we are in deep and terrible danger and want you please to pass on our news and pictures. So please don't just press the delete button. Help best in the way that you know how.
Do face the reality of what is going on here and help us send out the word
. The more people who know about it the more chance we have of the United Nations coming to our aid. Please don't ignore or deny what's happening. Some would like to be protected from the truth, but then if we are eliminated, how would you feel? 'If only we knew how bad it really was, we could have helped in some way'.
I know we chose to stay here and that some people feel we deserve what's coming to us. For now, we ourselves have food, shelter, a little fuel and a bit of money for the next meal, but what is going to happen next? Will they start on our houses? All property is going to belong to the State now. I want to send out my Title Deeds to one of you because if they get a hold of those, I can't fight for my rights.
Censorship! We no longer have SW radio, which told us everything that was happening, because the government jammed it out of existence. We don't have any reporters, and no one is allowed to photograph. If we had reporters here, they would have an absolute field day. Even the pro-government The Herald
has written that people are shocked, stunned, bewildered and blown mindless by the wanton destruction of many folks homes, which are supposed to be 'illegal' but for which a huge percentage actually do have licenses.
Please, do have some compassion and help by sending out the articles and personal reports so that something can/may be done.
I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do."
Edward Everett Hale
Posted by Charlie
Zimbabwe barely pass scrutiny
FURTHER evidence of Zimbabwe's decline unfolded this week as Sri Lanka bowled them out for 67 in a one-day international at Harare a couple of days after an ICC fact-finding group had completed an inspection of the state of the nation's cricket.
This was 10th lowest international one-day total anywhere if excluding countries such as the United States and Canada, and it was just as well Zimbabwe skated past the all-time lowest score of 35, their own 'record' set in Harare against Sri Lanka four years ago. Ajantha Mendis did the damage this time with four wickets.
A three-person ICC panel, led by the West Indies Board president Dr Julian Hunte, finished their three-day mission on Wednesday and are to make recommendations on "how Zimbabwe can return to playing Test cricket", according to an ICC statement from Dubai. Judging by the start of the one-day series against Sri Lanka, the time will be never.
The ICC mission -- Hunte, Arjuna Ranatunga and the ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat -- looked at the management and development of the game in Zimbabwe and assessed the effect of policies and programmes so far.
They carried out a detailed inspection of the cricket administration, facilities, resources and capabilities in this impoverished country, including all areas contained in the Full Member guidelines.
Hunte is due to make recommendations to the ICC Board at the January 2009 meeting, including constructive strategies and initiatives to assist Zimbabwe to improve its cricket in all respects.
CHARLIE SAYS: The ICC might suggest some appropriate prayers for a country ravaged by the Mugabe regime.
Posted by Charlie
Zimbabwe are still there
THE ICC have announced their compromise on the vexed Zimbabwe issue in Dubai today. During the two weeks when everyone in England pretends to like tennis, our real national summer sport -- cricket -- comes up with a stonking debate and a nice crisis to grab a few headlines.
The ICC Board agreed eventually that Zimbabwe should retain their full status for one-day internationals and in return agree not to journey to the twenty20 world championship in England next year "in the greater interest of world cricket". The ICC were at pains to point out that this trade-off was not intended to set a precedent, and they intend to form a panel to monitor Zimbabwean affairs.
The ICC issued this statement: "The Zimbabwe delegation to ICC annual conference week is aware of the decision of the British government not to allow its bilateral series in England in 2009 to go ahead. Zimbabwe Cricket has also taken note that the British government is likely to refuse to grant visas for the Zimbabwe cricket team to take part in the ICC World Twenty20 2009. Therefore, the Zimbabwe delegation has decided to recommend to its board that the team should withdraw from that event.
"The delegation has undertaken to report back on the decision of its board to the ICC within one month. The delegation will report to its board that it will not suffer financially as a result of its non-participation in the ICC World Twenty20 2009. The Zimbabwe delegation has agreed to take this decision in the greater interest of world cricket and the ICC. This recommendation should be viewed as a one-off and will not be taken as a precedent.
"Outgoing ICC president Ray Mali has recommended that a sub-committee be set up, chaired by Dr Julian Hunte (West Indies) and including another ICC Board member Arjuna Ranatunga (Sri Lanka) and an official from the ICC (to be confirmed). The role of this sub-committee will be to advise the ICC Board on all matters relating to Zimbabwe cricket including its return to full participation in the international game. The specific terms of reference for the sub-committee will be finalised in due course."
CHARLIE SAYS: Illogical though it is, the compromise is the best temporary solution. I agree with India's view that the ICC exists to develop cricket and not to destroy it, which is what the political agenda would entail. Trying to reduce the respectability of the Mugabe regime by hitting cricket would have no effect at all on the appalling conditions in the country.
Cricket has fallen into such a shambolic state in Zimbabwe -- grounds derelict, first class programme suspended -- one hopes the Julian Hunte panel can apply some pressure. There will be no incoming tours in the present cirmcumstances, and cricket might well die naturally there anyway with or without the ICC.
The ICC are certainly guilty of allowing Zanu PF to take over the running of Zimbabwe Cricket, an absolutely outrageous abuse of the system. Even Bangladesh have been coaxed into appointing an independent cricket authority.
Posted by Charlie
England pull down shutters
THE England and Wales Cricket Board announced today that they were suspending all bilateral arrangements with Zimbabwe Cricket, a move that followed similar action by South Africa last week.
This effectively ends mutual co-operation for tours and development programmes with the ECB's counterparts in Harare, allowing England to cancel next year's incoming tour by Zimbabwe, but only sanction from the ICC can prevent Zimbabwe from competing in the Twenty20 world event.
Cricket South Africa eventually buckled under pressure from their own players, who resented playing matches and suffering deprivations in Zimbabwe, quite apart from the political discomfort. England would have found themselves in the same position if they had not acted.
A spokesman at Lord's said: "The ECB deplores the position in Zimbabwe and, like Cricket South Africa, finds this untenable. Therefore all bilateral arrangements are suspended with Zimbabwe Cricket with immediate effect.
"The Government has written to the ECB today and has made a clear instruction that Zimbabwe’s bilateral tour scheduled under the ICC Future Tours Programme for 2009 should be cancelled.
"The ECB, who have been in constructive and extensive dialogue with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for some time, welcome the Government’s decision and share the Government’s concerns about the deteriorating situation and lack of human rights in Zimbabwe. ECB are now in detailed discussions to identify a replacement country to tour in the early part of the summer of 2009."
CHARLIE SAYS: This is welcome, though, as I said on Radio Five Live last night, it will unfortunately have no effect on the Mugabe regime's mindset and might kill off Zimbabwean cricket . The ICC know that Zimbabwe will probably never regain Test status and they must decide whether they should be barred from Twenty20 competitions indefinitely.
Posted by Charlie
ICC try to clip IPL dominance
THE ICC today attempted to rein in the power of the Indian Premier League by persuading the Indian Board to affirm the priority of international cricket by enshrining terms in the standard playing contracts.
Among other matters agreed at the board meeting in Dubai, the ICC announced a 14-team format for the next World Cup in 2011 and approved a technology trial for a Test series later this year. A review of the KMPG forensic audit accepted that Zimbabwe Cricket were dealing with "serious financial irregularities". Umpire Darrell Hair was restored to matches involving Full Member countries.
The ICC media release ran as follows:
Indian Premier League (IPL)
The ICC Board has agreed upon an official policy regarding the IPL. In general terms, it was agreed that the IPL was a good concept and although the introduction of privately owned franchises introduced risks to the game, it also provided possible benefits.
The Board stressed that the concept of nation-versus-nation cricket was the lifeblood of Members and this must always be given the highest possible priority. In order to maintain that position, the ICC Board and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) agreed that the BCCI, as the owner of the IPL, would sign a standard-form contract with all of the ICC Members reflecting the following principles:
• Each ICC Member will have an unfettered right in its absolute discretion to lodge an objection to a player from its country playing in the IPL.
• This objection can be lodged up to two years after that player’s retirement.
• All such objections will be respected by the IPL and its various franchises and the player in question will not be selected to play.
• Bilateral commitments of Members will take precedence over IPL fixtures.
• IPL will introduce a code of conduct, an anti-corruption code and an anti-doping code that comply with ICC regulations.
No request has been made by the IPL or BCCI to adjust the ICC Future Tours Programme to accommodate IPL matches. The ICC will monitor IPL’s progress over the next few years and work with the BCCI to ensure that it works in harmony with international cricket.
A detailed forensic report was produced by KPMG South Africa and KPMG Zimbabwe regarding the 2005-06 accounts of Zimbabwe Cricket. This report was considered by the ICC audit committee, which reported to the ICC Board. In its review of the ICC audit committee report, the ICC Board accepted that the KPMG report had found no evidence of criminality and that no individuals had gained financially.
The Board noted, however, that the report highlighted serious financial irregularities. ZC reported to the ICC Board that it had taken substantial remedial action to correct these irregularities and would continue to do so.
ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 format
The ICC Board has decided upon a 14-team format for the next ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 which will be held in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. The event will be held over a significantly shorter period than the previous one. The detailed format, venues and schedule will be finalised in due course.
The 10 Full Members qualify automatically for the event with the remaining four places going to the semi-finalists of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, which will take place in Dubai in 2009.
The ICC Board approved the trialing of the increased use of technology by umpires. The trial will involve a system whereby players can request that umpiring decisions be reviewed by the TV umpire. Subject to the consent of the England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket South Africa, the trial will be conducted during the Test series between those two Members in England this year.
The ICC Cricket Committee will be charged with determining and finalising the playing conditions for the trial subject to the proviso that the method of review should incorporate the principle of consultation with, rather than referral to, the TV umpire.
The ICC Board resolved that Darrell Hair would remain on the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires and would be appointed to umpire matches involving Full Member teams. This position will be reviewed at the end of March 2009.
ICC Champions Trophy 2008
The Board discussed the details of this year’s ICC Champions Trophy in Pakistan. As it stands, the event will go ahead as planned from Sept 11-28 in three venues across the country, which will be finalised in due course. A full independent security assessment of the situation in Pakistan will be conducted in June.
Appointment of the next ICC chief executive
As announced on Monday the ICC Board has selected South African Imtiaz Patel as its preferred candidate for the position of chief executive. Pending negotiations with Mr Patel it is hoped that he will take over from Malcolm Speed during the ICC’s annual conference at the end of June. Mr Speed has been ICC chief executive since 2001.
New ICC director
The Board welcomed Arjuna Ranatunga to his first meeting as an ICC director. Mr Ranatunga is the newly appointed chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket and before the meeting started he received his ICC director’s tie from ICC president Ray Mali.
The ICC Board, which meets three times a year, is made up of the following Directors:
Ray Mali (Chairman) – ICC president
Malcolm Speed – ICC chief executive
David Morgan – ICC president-elect
Creagh O’Connor (Australia)
Major General Sina Ibn Jamali (Bangladesh)
Giles Clarke (England)
Sharad Pawar – ICC vice-president (India)
IS Bindra and Shashank Manohar attended parts of the meeting as alternates in the absence of Mr Pawar
Sir John Anderson (New Zealand)
Dr Nasim Ashraf (Pakistan)
Arjuna Ranatunga (Sri Lanka)
Norman Arendse (South Africa)
Dr Julian Hunte OBE (West Indies)
Peter Chingoka (Zimbabwe)
Samir Inamdar (Kenya)
Stanley Perlman (Israel)
HRH Tunku Imran (Malaysia)
Posted by Author Name
ECB above Mugabe gestures
THE Government have decided not to intervene on the Zimbabwe issue, it emerged during a debate in the House of Lord’s. No directives will be made to the ECB and there will be no refusal of visas.
This shifts the burden on to the cricket fraternity as to whether to attempt to freeze out Zimbabwean cricket as a protest against Robert Mugabe cruel regime.
Lord Malloch-Brown said in the debate: “The Foreign Secretary and others in this government have made it clear that we do not encourage the ECB to allow Zimbabwe to tour England in 2009 or England to tour Zimbabwe in 2012 if the situation in the country is as it is now.
“We continue to speak to the ECB about these issues, but it remains a decision for the board. We have decided that the Government can make their position clear, but that it is not for us to intervene directly in this matter.”
This should be good news for the ICC, guardians of the game, but the ‘soft’ approach will not please the hard-liners led by Kate Hoey, the former Sports Minister and chair of the parliamentary all-party committee on Zimbabwe.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown had implied more far-reaching action would be taken against Zimbabwe, so that Lord Malloch-Brown's comments were surprising. Hoey told the cricinfo website: “It does not seem to reflect the views of Downing Street earlier this year. It would be a travesty if we gave visas to any Zimbabwean cricket team to tour, and I want to see the Prime Minister clarify the situation.”
CHARLIE SAYS: On BBC Radio 5 Live, Hoey cited the South Africa boycott that ended apartheid as an example of the sporting weapon used successfully against oppressive regimes. The Zimbabwe problem is totally different, because the Mugabe regime has not been ostracised by other nations in the International Cricket Council, apart from Australia, or subjected to a torrent of economic sanctions. Not even South Africa has taken action.
The British government have not launched their own sanctions against Zimbabwe beyond trying to avoid occupying the same room as Mugabe. This is gesture politics. It’s a bit rich of them to expect the ECB or individual sportsmen to take the responsibility.
The ICC would risk splitting the game again if they allowed politics into the game, even though they should probably criticise the Zimbabwean government for cricket reasons. The Zimbabwe players themselves are innocent and probably anti-Mugabe to a man. So punishing them by denying visas or banning them from touring next year would be futile. It would be bonkers of the ECB too if they encouraged individual players to make their own protests.
Playing cricket against Zimbabwe would not imply support for the most destructive and revolting regime in southern Africa.
Posted by charlie
Sad case of Mark Vermeulen
THE former Zimbabwe batsman Mark Vermeulen has been cleared of arson on psychiatric grounds after fire attacks in 2006 at two locations in Harare -- the Zimbabwe cricket headquarters and national academy. This is a chilling story of a descent into madness.
Two experts said in evidence that Vermeulen was suffering from the mental effects of being hit on the head by a cricket ball during a match against India in Australia four years ago while he was batting against Irfan Pathan at Brisbane.
The Harare magistrate heard evidence from Zimbabwean government psychiatrists Dr Sekai Martha Nhiwatiwa and Dr Munyaradzi Madhombiro that suggested Vermeulen, 28, had been suffering from partial complex epilepsy and impulsive behaviour, and he ruled that the player had not responsible for his actions.
Only two months after he had been banned from English club cricket for three years, with two suspended, for violent behaviour with Werneth, the torching incidents – which he admitted -- happened in Harare. They were possibly connected with the realisation he had been overlooked by the national selectors, closing his career after eight Tests.
Less than a year before the Brisbane injury, the tall Vermeulen suffered a sickening blow on the head from his team-mate and fast bowler Travis Friend in the nets during the World Cup in South Africa. After the Pathan delivery, which fracture his skull through the gap above the helmet grille, he needed metal plates inserted in a 3 ½ hour operation.
But his erratic behaviour had been in evidence before then. Having been expelled from school in Harare, he was a successful cricketer until run-ins with the management during the England tour resulted in his early departure home. Once he refused to field a ball at Hove because he felt the weather was too cold. After making a Test match pair in one day at Chester-le-Street, he retreated into an extended sulk.
Alistair Campbell told journalist Telford Vice, of cricinfo, last year that Vermeulen “fell apart” when the best players, most notably Andy Flower, began to leave the country. “He's always been a little... what's the word, different,” said Campbell, captain when Vermeulen made his Test debut in 2002. “He's never reacted that well to authority or to adversity, and some of his actions in those situations have not been those of normal people.
“Everyone is allowed their idiosyncrasies, and professional sport is full of oddballs. But they don't go around burning down buildings. In his calmer moments he was like a kid with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, who took his medicine. When he had proper guidance - when the Flowers and other experienced players were in the team - then he did take direction. But I think when everyone left he fell apart.”
Campbell added: “Perhaps his ambition was to play with those guys. Even now when I see him, he comes up to me and says, 'Let's make a comeback, let’s go to the World Cup'. He always had a mad streak in him, but it was never as pronounced as it was after the old guard left.”
On his return from the Werneth bust-up Zimbabe Cricket told him he needed to prove himself in domestic cricket. “That was a recipe for a bomb going off,” said Campbell, “which is basically what happened.
“Playing professional cricket is a pampered lifestyle. You're not really aware of the outside world, and when you're dropped into it, it's a bit of a story. Teams these days have fitness coaches and dieticians and all sorts of things, but not enough of an effort is made to assess players' mental strength and aptitude to play at international level - what it takes out of you and what it creates inside you. Playing for Zimbabwe was never about making money, it was all about fun on the road and having a good time. Suddenly that's taken away from you, and you're not staying in nice hotels and you have to pay a few bills.”
In the days before the fire, the Zimbabwe squad played practice matches at the academy ground in preparation for their tour to Bangladesh. The coach Kevin Curran complained that he tried to stop one of the matches by throwing boundary boards and bricks on to the field.
According to Vice, another source claimed Vermeulen went into the gym at the academy and poured whisky all over himself, and told people about what he was going to do. A fire was extinguished before it took hold in the Zimbabwe Cricket boardroom on Oct 30.
The next night, Halloween, the thatched academy building went up in flames. Vermeulen was seen leaving the scene. He was arrested and charged with two counts of arson, and he appeared in court in Harare two days later. He was granted bail, though his passport was confiscated. The trial was adjourned several times while evidence and reports were gathered, and the psychiatric reports saved him from a long prison sentence this week.
Posted by charlie