Zimbabwe allrounder Sikandar Raza spoke to ESPNcricinfo less than an hour after he made a bold speech while receiving the Player-of-the-Tournament award at the World Cup Qualifiers. Here's what he had to say:
You said that the Player-of-the-Tournament trophy is a painful reminder of not being able to qualify for the World Cup... How do you feel right now?
It [the pain] certainly hasn't died down. It is not going to die down for a long time. The World Cup is next year, so it will come back again. I think even if I do manage to get over this, when I see the World Cup without Zimbabwe and some of the other nations that played a fantastic brand of cricket, it will come back again. It will haunt us for a very, very long time. It is the harsh reality.
Can you take us through the aftermath of the match against UAE? What was being said inside the dressing room?
Nothing was said. Guys were crying. I was also in tears. We were hiding our faces next to the wall. Some were hiding their faces in their clothes. Guys were sitting in their own corners and not saying a word. [Coaches] Streaky [Heath Streak] and [Lance] Klusener said a lot of good things and after that nothing was said, and rightfully so. The reality of the matter is that we don't know what the future holds for us. We don't know who is going to be in that changing room again. A lot of things might change, but we don't know anything.
But that wasn't the painful part. The painful part was not being able to go to the World Cup. We still haven't contacted each other. Everybody is giving each other time to absorb what happened. God knows how long it will take for the emotions to settle down.
Luckily, I am leaving Zimbabwe for a 10-day stint with [Dhaka Premier League team] Gazi Tank. It will certainly help me think about my future a lot better. I do feel bad for the guys who are staying in Zimbabwe, because every little corner will remind them of, basically, all those sad feelings.
You are certainly getting busier with other domestic leagues around the world. Are you going to play for Zimbabwe in their next assignment?
I think our next assignment is in July, which is supposed to be a T20 tri-series, Australia being one of the other teams. Either before or after this tournament, we have five ODIs against Pakistan. It leaves us three or four months without cricket.
I think we have to sit with our board to see what they tell us. I think our decision will basically rely on a lot of variables. I can't tell you the answer now because there's a lot of emotion going around. I don't want to make a decision based on emotions. I will also consult my family to determine what I have to do in the future. This DPL gig couldn't have come at a better time. Hopefully with a bit more cricket and a better atmosphere, I will be able to see things better.
Is there also regret that you will be missing out on the World Cup when your form has been so good?
There's certainly no regret that we couldn't qualify while I was in good form. I wouldn't have minded making a few ducks, not scoring too many or not taking wickets and still qualifying for the World Cup. At the end of the day, it is a team game and we carry each other. I always believed that it was a band of brothers.
Had we qualified for the World Cup, some of us may have played our last World Cup. So the only regret is that some of us may not retire playing the World Cup of our careers.
When you were talking to Pommie Mbangwa at the presentation, you spoke about all the other teams in the tournament. Do you feel a kinship with the other teams despite being from an established Test-playing nation?
This tournament certainly brought a lot of these nations together. We hardly get a chance to play against them. We saw the passion, hard work and the difficulties these guys go through to be where they are today. It was actually extremely nice to watch. I don't know about kinship, but I certainly feel those brothers certainly richly deserve to be part of the World Cup.
I want to make my sincere apologies to the William Porterfield and the boys from Ireland. I had them in my mind but I was going through a lot of emotions [during the presentation ceremony]. So I ended up rounding it off. They also equally deserve to be at the World Cup.