Mbangwa calls for saving Zimbabwe cricket

Published: Thursday, May 4, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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St Johns:Former Zimbabwe medium-fast bowler Mpumelelo 'Pommie' Mbangwa has bemoaned the state of the game in his homeland and called on officials to act swiftly to save its future.

Mbangwa, who played 15 Tests and 29 Limited-overs Internationals for Zimbabwe between 1996 and 2002, is very sad things have reached such a state in his country that a young, inexperienced side has been sent to the Caribbean for a series of seven Limited-overs Internationals.

"There have been problems in Zimbabwe cricket for a long time and they have been out there for everybody to see," remarked Mbangwa, who is here commentating on the series in the Caribbean.

"It is very sad the problems obviously have not been solved, or else you would see a completely different side out there on the field, and Zimbabwe would not have been one of the whipping boys of world cricket over the last few years."

The 29-year-old referred to the previous Zimbabwe tour of the Caribbean six years ago.

The visitors came close to knocking over the home team.

He also highlighted the closeness of the subsequent West Indies tour of the African nation four years ago, when the hosts also came close to winning the series.

"Unfortunately, things have gone pear-shaped about the same time that Zimbabwe had been able to get a side together that in time would have been very competitive," he said.

"All of the things said by the players that have chosen not to play for Zimbabwe must hold some water.

"Collectively, anybody who has any love for Zimbabwe cricket has to come together, and accept that things have been done wrong in the past, and agree on a way to move things forward."

Mbangwa felt it would have been thrilling to see some of the more experienced Zimbabwe players come back and play for the country again.

"Its all they would love to do once they are still active and playing cricket," he said.

"Here we have a side that the average age is around 20 years old, and what is sad is that you have young players learning the game against players twice their age and several times their experience.

"This is what the problems between the board and the players have brought on Zimbabwe cricket, and the sooner its sorted out, the better."

Though Mbangwa was thrilled to see the competitiveness of the inexperienced Zimbabwe side in the first two Limited-overs Internationals in the Caribbean, he was deeply hurt that they had been thrown into such a situation.

"Its unfair to them," he said.

"It may be alright that one or two may stand out and people may say they have talent, but for the others, who dont quite get things right, they are coming into the international game five or six years too early.

"How much better it would have been for some of them to play five or six more years of cricket and then turn up as a guy who had talent at the age of 19, worked through his weaknesses, got better, got stronger, got fitter, knew a little bit more about the game, and played 25 or 30 first-class matches?

"The other reason I say it doesnt hearten me, but hurt me is that it could happen again. When these players get a little older, are they going to turn around and say they need this, this, and this, and not get given it, get frustrated, then leave the game, and some other young players turn up?"

Zimbabwe trail West Indies 0-2 in the seven-match series, after back-to-back losses by five wickets and 98 runs at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

The series continues when the two sides contest another double-header at Guyanas Bourda Oval on Saturday and Sunday.

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