It’s just not cricket

BY MUONGORORI HARARE - Zimbabwe has a proud record of sporting prowess. Just after independence in 1980, we won a gold at the Olympics with our women's hockey team, we have the Black family in tennis where the two boys and Cara have excelled for many years - reaching the very top of the world ten

nis circuit. In motor racing we had John Love, we also had a world class motor cyclist, Ray Amm and of course our golfers – Nick Price etc.

In swimming we were always up there and right now we have Kirsty Coventry doing her thing in the States, breaking world records and winning medals. Then came our cricket team. Our sporting fraternity is tiny – yet somehow, we were able to put together a team that qualified for world-class test status, only the second African State after South Africa to do so.

One of the problems with all these achievements has been that most of the star players were white Africans. Bill Flower, for example, put a lot of effort into the development of cricket in Zimbabwe and players like Tatenda Taibu came out of his stable.

This past week has seen Zimbabwe withdraw from world-class test cricket or face expulsion. It is a tragedy and one that could have easily been avoided and instead turned into a great morale boosting championship saga that would have improved our status as a nation and help correct our very damaging reputation as a country.

The world system for cricket meant that we received ample funding for development, perks and pay for our professional players and a real platform for development of the game. Now all gone. The local thugs and thieves simply could not keep their hands off when it was apparent that there was money to be made and spent.

The fact that the majority of the key actors were white, like commercial farming, simply made it an easy target, one stripped of any possibility of protection from violence and intimidation by the racist policies of Robert Mugabe and his crew. Never forgetting that he has been “patron” of Zimbabwe cricket for many years.

As for football – our national game, we have never got anywhere. Our team has failed and disappointed us at every turn and the main reason is not talent – we have plenty of that. Just look at the players working in clubs in Europe and South Africa, but simply a corrupt and incompetent national football administration. Again just too much money and power – the lights that attract the killer moths of Zanu (PF) to come in and destroy what potential there is in the game.

Sport, like culture and music, is an important part of national life. It plays a key role in maintaining a healthy population, creates employment and opportunity and can be a great foreign exchange earner. In addition there is no better way to promote a country than through its leading sports personalities and sporting achievements.

Perhaps one day soon we will again be able to watch world-class sportsmen and women – some of them our own children – out there on our playing fields and in our swimming pools, competing to achieve the accolade that they are the best there is in the world. Not because they are black or white, but just because they are.

Post published in: Zimbabwe Sports News

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