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Taibu slams board on eve of Test return

Firdose Moonda in Harare

August 2, 2011

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Tatenda Taibu plays the pull, Canada v Zimbabwe, World Cup, Group A, Nagpur, February 28, 2011
Tatenda Taibu: "I don't think much has changed really, the administration is still struggling to run cricket in the country well" © Getty Images
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On the eve of Zimbabwe's return to Test cricket, senior wicketkeeper batsman Tatenda Taibu has slammed the country's administration for not doing enough for the game. Taibu said that a lack of funds and poor professional structures are crippling cricket in the country.

The end of an almost six-year long self-imposed exile from Test cricket, the introduction of a franchise system and the return of many former players such as Heath Streak and Grant Flower to the coaching structures had many thinking that transformation was in the air. Taibu has knocked that notion, saying that the only reason the game survives in the country is because of the commitment of its players.

"I don't think much has changed really, the administration is still struggling to run cricket in the country well," Taibu said candidly. "For example, the guys haven't been paid their match fees from August last year up to now. At the moment, I am sitting here without a contract, no one has got a contract; those are all things that the administration is struggling to deal with."

Although the franchises have been able to contract and pay players, the issue of central contracts has never been clarified or resolved. All players who play for Zimbabwe must be contracted to a franchise, which means they earn some form of income, but Taibu indicated that may just be a form of bandaging a wound that really needs surgery. "When you walk around and you see a house that's painted well, you will think that house is really standing strong but if does not have a strong foundation, it will fall down one day or another," he said. "Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has just painted a house that's about to fall."

Taibu said the players have tried to seek certainty from ZC but that, personally, he had kept a distance from the subject because of his reputation as a pot-stirrer. "It's hard for me as a player with the history that I've got in Zimbabwe cricket to go up and mention these things," he said. "We've tried to go through the right structures, the captain and the manager but nothing has been done to date."

Taibu resigned from the captaincy in November 2005 in controversial fashion after speaking out about the way cricket was being run and spent time living in Namibia, Bangladesh and South Africa before coming home in 2007.

He vowed not to speak about administrative issues again but now, Taibu has broken his silence and said he is no afraid of the repercussions. Instead, he feels it his responsibility, as the senior statesman of the side, to be the mouthpiece for some of the juniors. "I like telling the truth, I know most of the other guys are scared of being targeted and they won't be able to come out and say it in the open but I am not scared of being targeted. I think it's important that I can stand up for the younger guys who don't have a voice."

With such discontent bubbling under the surface of a historic comeback into the game, it's difficult to see what keeps the players motivated. Taibu explained that it was the patriotism and passion in the ranks, and that he is proud to be involved with men of such character. "I can't fault the coaching staff, they've worked really hard and I can't fault the guys. They come in day in and day out but they are not getting much support from the administration unfortunately," he said. "To see the guys running in and bowling and hitting a lot of balls in the nets it really shows that the guys have got the country at heart. It is two days before a Test match and no one has got a contract, no one knows what we will get paid, but the guys love their country and they can't see cricket drop like that."

As much as there is strife in Zimbabwe cricket, there is also pride and the return to the game's premier format is something the players are cherishing. "It will be sad to see Zimbabwe cricket die, after all the people that have worked hard for us to get Test cricket back, I think it will be a waste if we let it die."

Taibu believes the game is still very much alive and the upcoming Test matches, against Bangladesh, Pakistan and New Zealand, will only help cricket thrive in spite of its structures. "When you play Test cricket, you improve faster," he said. "As a batsman you spend more time at the crease, as a bowler you learn how to get people out, how to be disciplined and when to attack and when not to."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Posted by   on (August 5, 2011, 11:26 GMT)

I think what Tatenda did is good for the sport at this juncture. I would suppose these issues would have been raised in private with the relevant authorities without any positive responses and as such he, as 'leader' has decided bring the subject out in the open. Sometimes you are much safer when things are out in public than you will ever be in private. Likewise, ZC have been very mature in their response about how they are dealing with the issues raised. We know in the past he would have been instantly kicked out. Lets hope Ozias and Alistair mean what they say & not just because the ICC's chief executive, Haroon Lorgat is in Zimbabwe at the moment. With the way the team is playing, this is our chance to get back onto the big stage, lets not trash this massive opportunity.

Posted by cric_fanatics on (August 4, 2011, 13:20 GMT)

@ Saiful Alam ...frankly they are of the level of bangladesh and pakistan now..

Posted by SomeoneStoleMyLungi on (August 4, 2011, 2:52 GMT)

Taibu definitely has guts! If it is true that the ZC hasnt paid the players salaries yet then i have respect for him. At least he isnt asking for more money. All he is saying is that he isnt paid they way he shouldve. The other brave part of him is that he doesnt care if he is targeted. If players arent paid then the players will lose interest for hte game and this wil cripple the ZC. But then again how long has it been since they last shouldve been paid? They shouldve been paid last yr but why is Taibu saying this now? Maybe cuz the younger ppl are scared of being targeted? I dont know but its an interesting topic...

Posted by gothetaniwha on (August 3, 2011, 23:06 GMT)

This is why it is important that India tour countries like ZIM , BAN , and NZ even if its 3 onedayers acouple of20/20 and a test - the money that these tours in TV rights can generate, can help fund these countries for there FC cricketers and junior development for a couple of years ,

Posted by Jonah58 on (August 3, 2011, 17:23 GMT)

Still raises the question though of just where all the money the ICC pays to Zimbabwe as a 'test' playing full member (please don't make me laugh) is actually going?

There are a lot of associate and affiliate nations who manage to pay and contract thier players on less than a 10th of what ZC get!

Taibu has every right to voice his concerns just like Henry Olonga did all those years ago, freedom of speech should not just be confined to people in rich countries.

Posted by   on (August 3, 2011, 14:48 GMT)

6-years detached from test cricket, I hope Zimbabwe'll get back their 6 years ago position in less than next 6 years. Will Bangladesh get back their 14-months old performance? Their performance was comparatively good in 2009-10! Hope that BD can play enough test matches near future with each other.

Posted by zimbos_05 on (August 3, 2011, 12:22 GMT)

Like most things in Zimbabwe, the administration fails. Zimbabwe cricket could have been a powerhouse, and still has the talent to be one, but the administration has always failed the players and the fans. Its an extremely saddening thing to see as a Zimbabwe myself. Living in Australia, i can see the massive gap in administration and development. Zimbabwe you were once on track to beat any team in the world, you then let your greed take that away from you. One day Zim cricket will hopefully return to high levels and achieve the heights it can, but that day wont come until we see serious change and major development.

Posted by   on (August 3, 2011, 11:55 GMT)

same can be said towards KENYA...They went to Semi Final, I think, on 2003 ..but now look at them...they are worse than Canada, Namibia and Ireland....Sad

Posted by Sobat on (August 3, 2011, 10:41 GMT)

Well even been a Sri Lanken I feel sad to see what have happend to Zimbabwe cricket.... in the past years and in one stage We thought Zimbabwe was a better team then SA or N/Z ... its was great with the Flowers / Gudwins / Jhonesons / Streek /Wittals and Campbells and i just cannot understand what hapen so fast .... Wat ever wish u all luck guys.

Posted by MENDIS_Forever on (August 3, 2011, 9:08 GMT)

Weldone Taibu! Weldone sanga for your speech.It has become a key to open locked mouths of other cricketers..

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