Zimbabwe news January 14, 2012

Playing in Australia costs Sibanda spot on NZ tour


Vusi Sibanda, the Zimbabwe opener, has not been selected for the upcoming tour to New Zealand because he chose to play grade cricket in Australia and declined a Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) contract. The omission of Sibanda is in keeping with ZC's policies of regarding players who are not part of its domestic structure as ineligible for national selection.

Zimbabwe play a one-off Test, three ODIs and two Twenty20 internationals in New Zealand, and named a 15-man squad led by Brendan Taylor.

Sibanda did not accept an offer from his franchise, the Mid West Rhinos, where he was captain, at the start of the domestic season in September 2011, but continued to play for the national team. He did not play the Stanbic T20 competition in December and travelled to Sydney to play for Eastern Suburbs.

At the time, Alistair Campbell, chairman of Zimbabwe's cricket committee, told Sibanda that he would not be considered for the national team if he chose to go to Australia. Head coach Alan Butcher was asked if Sibanda would definitely be ruled out; he said, "Not as far as he or I are concerned," leaving room for uncertainty over Sibanda's future.

Sibanda returned to Zimbabwe earlier than expected in an attempt to be considered for the New Zealand tour. Sources close to the player said his arrangement in Australia was no longer working out after he hoped to be contracted for the Big Bash League but was not.

Sibanda was named in Zimbabwe's 20-man training squad last week. The Zimbabwe Independent reported that he was not included in any of the team's drills when they trained, while members of Zimbabwe's selection and cricket committees debated whether they should include Sibanda in the final squad. Campbell said the selectors decided to stick with their original decision.

"He knew when he decided to go that he would not be considered for selection for Zimbabwe," Alistair Campbell, chairman of the cricket committee, told ESPNcricinfo. "When he returned, we debated it, and decided that we cannot set precedents for players to go and play in other country's domestic competitions and not at home, and then be considered for the national team."

Taylor, however, is currently playing in New Zealand's HRV Cup, where he represented Wellington in seven matches. He missed three first-class matches and two List A matches in Zimbabwe, but Campbell justified Taylor's actions.

"With Brendan Taylor, it was different. The board has always been in favour of players going to play in other country's 20-over leagues to learn a bit about the conditions as long as it does not conflict with our cricket," Campbell said. "We can't have players substituting domestic cricket with club cricket in another country." Taylor is still contracted to ZC. He will meet up with the squad once they reach New Zealand.

The tour will be a litmus test for Taylor, who will lead Zimbabwe for the first time away from home since taking over the captaincy after the World Cup last year. It will also include the first away Test Zimbabwe will play in six years, after they made a return to the five-day format in August 2011.

Sibanda was an integral part of Zimbabwe's Test comeback. He scored 78 against Bangladesh in their first Test of the new era, which Zimbabwe won by 130 runs. He also contributed an important and 93 in the 34-run loss to New Zealand in Bulawayo two months later. As one of their most senior players in the Zimbabwe squad, Sibanda was also part of the leadership team.

Despite the snub, Sibanda's chances of representing Zimbabwe are not over. He is currently playing for the Rhinos on a pay-as-you-play basis and will renegotiate a contract at the start of the next season. "If he plays in Zimbabwe and shows his commitment to our cricket, he will be considered again," Campbell said.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 17, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    It seems Sibanda thought he is too big to be left out & especially after being warned,i think he needs to be taught a good lesson.A strong message has to be sent & this decision cant be better!! Goodluck Zimbabwe....

  • Peter on January 15, 2012, 22:27 GMT

    This guy us a real talent, he should be encouraged to improve himself for the long term good of Zim cricket,

  • Mark on January 15, 2012, 16:48 GMT

    Being neutral, I would like to say Good Luck to the Zimbabwean Team on your tour to New Zealand, I really hope you do well and come off with some big wins. I saw the results of the last meeting between the sides at the end of last year and was really impressed of what Zimbabwe have done even though they lost all the formats against New Zealand. Zimbabwe gave them a tough game in the first 2 ODI fixtures and chasing a large score successfully in the final ODI. But what I was really impressed about that tour is how close they came to beating New Zealand in their one and only Test Match. They only lost at the final hurdle but Zimbabwe should take positives from that game and take it to New Zealand as they travel.

  • Dummy4 on January 15, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    guys keep it easy on the lad....he still by far is one of the most enterprising batsman to come...i enjoyed him during the pak-zim series and honestly believe he deserves the spot. give him a showcause , warning and get him on.

  • Tahseen on January 15, 2012, 1:42 GMT

    I think it is ridiculous from Zimbabwe cricket to not to pick a player if he goes and plays outside. Look at Zaheer Khan, he was struggling for form in 2003 and then he went and played in England domestic and after that he returned as a completely different Bowler. ZC should encourage players to go abroad and play there Especially if it is Australia or England. Pakistan inspite of so much crisis find their bowling bench strength much stronger than any other country who play regular cricket, Why? Becoz those players will be playing in domestic cricket of england and Australia, THINK ZC , THINK CAMPBELL.

  • Earl on January 15, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    The domestic cricket in some countries is so poorly organized and of poor quality that the boards should be happy that some of their top players are offered contracts to play in better organized leagues.They have no money to pay these players a living wage.The official are able to live comfortably and the players are left to suffer.When West Indies had the great teams check how many were playing county cricket.Players should be allowed to improve as cricketers and earn a good living.

  • Michael on January 15, 2012, 0:14 GMT

    I'm still not quite sure what the difference between Sibanda and Taylor is... if Sibanda had been successfully picked for the Big Bash League it would have made things ok, because he would be in a '20-over league to learn a bit about the conditions'? Or would he had to have gone to NZ rather than Australia? Obviously missing domestic matches isn't the problem as Taylor missed several.

  • Dummy4 on January 14, 2012, 19:36 GMT

    If the rules say you have to play and don't, you can't get mad when you're not selected. Them's the rules.

  • Bryn on January 14, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    so this guy has gone out of his way to become a better player than most international players these days from england, india, sri lanka. yet he is condemed by his country, what a joke.

  • Andrew on January 14, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    Yeah, I guess Vusi did not play his cards well. I wondered why he would play club cricket over franchise cricket, but I guess he wanted a chance at the BBL. But I think ZC must learn from this - they must have better player management. They knew Vusi has been a very good opener for Zim and they should have tried harder to keep him around and pursuade him to stay. I still think they are to blame for poor planning and management of our 'resources'.

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