OZIAS BVUTE was either an angel or a devil, depending on which side you were on and what you were reading, during the days when Zimbabwe Cricket plunged into the pit of darkness. To his critics, he was the cruel outsider who had been parachuted onto their reclusive island, to destroy everything good that lived.
These people included Peter Roebuck, an influential British/Aussie cricket writer and commentator, who worked for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cricinfo and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Considered a doyen of cricket writing and commentating, Roebuck was viciously critical of Bvute when he landed on the Zimbabwe Cricket island and used his pen, and voice, to paint this sorry picture of a maniac who needed to be destroyed.
He was even more brutal on his namesake, Peter Chingoka, the chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket and an ally that Bvute relied upon to weather the vicious storms that they navigated.
Tragically, Roebuck plunged to his death after leaping from the sixth floor of his Southern Sun hotel room in Cape Town, in November last year, as South African police questioned him about a sexual harassment case.
He didn't leave to see Bvute graciously walking away from the game, a fulfilled man who believed he had left a legacy and was now leaving on his own terms and not on the terms that Roebuck and his crew had wanted.
To those who believed in him, Bvute was a courageous revolutionary, a man whose vision of a future where the majority black people would have a big say in the game, was one that needed to be supported.
For years, a lot of black players who had dared venture into this game had been left frustrated by a system that frowned upon their talents, on the back of their skin, as the barriers reminded them, at every turn, that they were in the wrong sport.
Yes, there had been some black players who had made it into the national team, but they were few and far between and all the time, they appeared to be supporting casts rather than being part of the main act.
There had been a black cricket chairman, but again, Chingoka looked isolated in that leadership corridor and alone, he could not force the changes that were needed to make this game truly national.
Admittedly, the Zimbabwe national team was competitive on the international stage and when results are flowing, there is a tendency to ignore real issues that would be simmering below the surface.
One of those big issues concerned the future of the game, in an environment where it was closed from the majority of the population and something had to give in at some point.
Bvute's arrival, at around the turn of the Millennium, into the mainstream administration of cricket, was not a coincidence with the aggressive transformation policy that unfolded in the game around that time.
In fact, Bvute was one of those people who had been brought into the game to champion that transformation, to open cricket to as many black players as possible.
To turn this game truly national so that it would appeal, in terms of spectator support, to the blacks too and to destroy all the barriers that had turned it into an exclusive, or reclusive island.
Determined to get it right, Bvute clearly stepped onto a lot of toes in a game known for being conservative and there was a lot of backlash to such an extent that his mission was misunderstood from the word go.
Vince Hogg, who was the ZC managing director, couldn't take it any more, as the winds of change swept across the game, and Bvute was installed as the man to replace him.
Virtually all the white players walked away, in 2004 and Bvute and Chingoka had to fight battles, which were exploding just about everywhere, including a rebellion in their administration.
It got so nasty that the duo was arrested in 2005 for allegedly violating the Exchange Control Act only to be released, without charge, on the advice of the Attorney General.
Ironically, they were released just a few hours before they were scheduled to be ousted and replaced by a shadow leadership where the then ZC vice-president, Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, was earmarked to take over from Chingoka.
Amid the accusations and counter accusations that followed, Bvute and Chingoka, crucially, won the support of the International Cricket Council and the rebellion was quashed. The international media took sides and battled in the corner of those who opposed Bvute and Chingoka.
We saw their vision and battled in the trenches in their corner and just as well, they won and in March 2009, when the ICC cleared the duo of allegations that they had misused funds, the path was cleared for them to impose their vision.
Crucially, during the dark days, Bvute and Chingoka had wisely decided to voluntarily withdraw Zimbabwe from the Test arena.
Left alone, away from the pressures of having to field a competitive Test team in a poisoned climate, Bvute and Chingoka started to implement their ideas and turn their game around.
In all this, Bvute was the driving force, the first man in the office and the last man out of the work place.
Blessed with a talent to explore commercial interests, wherever they emerge, he began to turn around his organisation, using his banking connections to borrow heavily and put up a structure that would no longer be an island for just a few but a game for everyone.
Soon a structure began to emerge and those who had stood in the trenches battling on the other side, began to see the light and Bvute slowly began to turn from a devil into an angel.
"The story of Zimbabwe Cricket's attempt to reintegrate meaningfully into the world game is too long and complex to fill a novel, let alone this page, but for me it began with an invitation from a man I had labelled a tyrant, among other things," wrote prominent South African cricket writer and commentator, Neil Manthorp, just two years ago.
"ZC managing director Ozias Bvute is certainly not perfect, but welcoming several hours of finger-pointing, chest-jabbing questioning from a hostile journalist is unusual behaviour for a dictatorial, self-serving administrator, as I had called him (based on the information I had been able to gather).
"Every question was asked and answered. The ICC spent more than US$500 000 on a forensic audit of ZC's financial affairs following allegations of theft and corruption by Bvute and chairperson Peter Chingoka. The results were never published. Bvute swears he wishes they had been.
"Whether either man also profited from the economic collapse of the nation's financial system is undecided.
"But if Bvute did benefit personally then he is giving back to cricket at an extraordinary rate.
"He already has an American green card guaranteeing residency, so why is he risking his personal fortune by bank-rolling Zim cricket's debt of close to US$4 million?
"Yet, extraordinarily, there are calls for the Zimbabwean cricket team to be banned from international competition. The national team has an average age of 24 and is full of passion and determination.
"They long to recreate the era of the early and mid 1990s when Zimbabwe, always the underdog, was a team to be, if not feared, then respected at all times and costs."
Bvute, who announced this week that he is leaving ZC, is a man who attracts a spectrum of emotions, but what isn't in dispute, is the fact that in about a dozen years in the administrative structures of this game, he achieved what he set out to do from the word go.
Zimbabwe cricket is now truly a national sporting discipline, with its playing staff, administrative crew and supporting cast, all truly representative of the country.
It's no longer an island, which seemed only to advance the interests of one racial group, but a grand theatre where anyone can come and express themselves.
Colour isn't the issue.
It wasn't when Bvute came along because he wasn't fighting the whites, but battling a wrong system.
Today he leaves behind a game that has a white captain, who is universally accepted across the country as the best man for the job, because it was never about race.
He also leaves a game, back in the Test arena and although weighed down significantly by its operational costs, still bubbly about its future.
Now, a fast bowler can emerge from virtually nowhere, like Brian Vitori, and on his Test debut, break all sorts of records.
The old faces -- Heath Streak, Alistair Campbell, Grant Flower -- are all back in the game and where there used to be racial tension, there is now harmony, and Bvute has been key to that.
"I have been working with him for the past two years and he was instrumental in bridging the gap between black and white when the association suffered a bust-up," said Campbell, this week.
"His greatest quality was the ability to get people to work together for the benefit of the game. Under him we managed to get back to Test cricket and now we have got the franchise system running efficiently.
"He set up the structures and after seven years he is now stepping down to pursue interests in the commercial field."
Bvute is gone, from mainstream cricket administration, but his legacy will live forever.
Ultimately, he was the man who changed the game in this country and, in a game like cricket where the pillars had been built for over a century, he needed to be a brave man to move the mountains.
That he did, and left the game enjoying this racial harmony, is testimony of his fine qualities both as an administrator and human being.