By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE national cricket team captain Hamilton Masakadza has made a passionate appeal to Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry to intervene in the ongoing impasse between Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) and the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) which has brought the domestic game to its knees.
Masakadza’s appeal comes after the International Cricket Council (ICC) recently suspended Zimbabwe from international cricket, citing government interference in the running of the elite sport in the country.
The suspension came after the SRC suspended the ZC board over poor corporate governance issues and replaced it with an interim committee.
According to the SRC, the decision was taken in an attempt to help ZC resolve its administrative and financial issues, but it hasn’t gone down well with the ICC, which took its decision last week, one that will have severe implications for the sport in that country.
However, critics argue, Gerald Mlotshwa, the SRC chairperson has vested interests in seeking the removal of the elected board lead by Tawengwa Mukuhlani. Mlotshwa is married to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s daughter.
Already four members of the women’s team were barred from taking part in a global development squad which was set for a tour of England; all-rounder Solomon Mire announced his international retirement and reports suggest more could follow him.
Masakadza said the ongoing impasse between ZC and SRC which has had a negative impact on the livelihoods of all the stakeholders in the game including the players.
“At this stage the whole issue has regrettably been reduced to a contest of who has the strongest argument or who has the power. When what is at stake are human lives and the very future of the game,” Masakadza said in the letter seen by NewZimbabwe.com.
Added Masakadza: “Honourable Minister, what is at stake are the lives of hundreds of ZC employees, cricketers – male and female – match officials, grounds men, security guards, general hands, the secretariat and the executive.
“Right now, they are struggling because they are yet to receive their June salaries. Soon it will be end of July and that will make it two months without pay. We have rentals or mortgages to pay. Some are building homes. We have families to feed. We have school fees to pay. We cannot continue with our honest trade of being professional cricketers because the grounds men are not maintaining facilities and the support staff are also not coming to work because of incapacitation due to non-payment.”
Masakadza said the only solution to the current impasse was for the SRC to reinstate the Tavengwa Mukuhlani-led ZC board as stated by the ICC in their ruling on July 18 which would pave way for national teams to return to international cricket.
The Zimbabwe women’s cricket team is scheduled to take part in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier in August while the men’s team was due to tour Bangladesh in September ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier in October.
“The suspension can only be lifted when the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) reinstates the ZC board led by Mr Tavengwa Mukuhlani. It is important to note that ICC, as the world cricket governing body, has made its ruling and at this stage it is pointless to argue whether they were right or not,” he said.
Masakadza said Zimbabwe does not have the luxury of missing any tour.
“We do not get to tour often so when we do we have to maximise it, more so since we failed last year to qualify for the World Cup which has just been played in England we plan to leave no stone unturned in making it to the next major event, which is the ICC T20 World Cup. That is vital for the progress and sustenance of the game of cricket in Zimbabwe. Therefore, non-participation is not an option simply because the ZC board which the ICC wants reinstated would have remained suspended by the SRC,” the Chevrons captain said.
The 35 year-old Zimbabwe captain also distanced himself from statements made on social media by his teammates criticising the ICC for backing the Mukuhlani-led board saying it had created divisions within the team.
“…It has come to my attention that there are some players who have been making statements saying they are speaking on behalf of the team. Their actions are divisive and in fact compromised change-room harmony during our tour of Netherlands and Ireland,” Masakadza said.
“As the Zimbabwe senior men’s cricket team captain, I also dissociate the team from the actions of those players who were seen at the ICC meeting in London. They were clearly there for their own ends as they had not been sent by the team and so could not have been representing it. Once again, we ask for your intervention, Honourable Minister, in the spirit that hailed your appointment as we all expected that you would ensure sport always carries the day,” he added.