As I was watching the last game between Zimbabwe and Afghanistan at Harare Sports Club, an interesting but insightful topic came up amongst us the supporters. We were watching hopelessly as our team was being torn apart into shreds by an associate team, Afghanistan do not even play Test cricket. The questioning sensibility stemmed within us: Is cricket meant for white people only?
The debate amongst ourselves raged on in the stands, as the batsmen were ultimately bowled out for a paltry 54 runs. It was a sorry sight and trust me seeing all that live was like a dagger being thrust right into your heart. Hence people questioned.
Some argued that the black players in the team have nothing to offer and what they know best is mediocrity. Some went on to say that when Zimbabwe’s cricket team was laden with white players we were at our very best, staging impressive performances against teams like India, Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan and England. As soon as the desertion of the national team by the white players ensued, our performance dipped to the lowest levels ever seen.
Others began a comparative analysis, comparing Zimbabwe and its southern neighbours South Africa. South Africa’s team is dominated by white players, currently they are the number one ranked team in the world in the One Day International format. They went on to say that because of the white dominance South Africa have been exceptionally good, while Zimbabwe are in a miserable state because of black players.
Superficially, this sounds reasonable. But people fail to notice that the predicament that Zimbabwe faces runs deep more than they can imagine. Yes, the players have settled for mediocrity but it is not their fault.
One major problem which Zimbabwe faces is that no nation wants to invite them over for games and when Zimbabwe host, they are left wallowing in a quagmire of serious and ballooning debts. With an already constricted financial base, this puts enormous strain on the board to avail resources for training, talent development and any grassroots project that may be on the cards. Domestic cricket is thus put in limbo and this haves a negative effect on the national team’s overall performance.
Administrative issues hinder the progress of Zimbabwe’s cricket considerably. Ever since the team disintegrated in the early and mid 2000s, the administration has failed to stabilize. This is because of the too much politics at play and the crippled economy that has adversely affected every aspect of sport in the country. Little is invested for sport development in Zimbabwe.
In addition to this, the current crop of white players in the Zimbabwe team also show dismal performances so to say that blacks have failed this sport is hogwash. Utterly nonsensical.
The external factors that have bedeviled sport in Zimbabwe affect everyone whether white or black.