November 15, 2001

Report of Disciplinary Board of Inquiry into comments made by Alistair Campbell


The Board of Directors of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union has agreed that for transparency the findings by the Disciplinary Board of Inquiry be made public and accordingly the full report on the above matter is now attached.


The future of Zimbabwean Cricket depends on the integration of black players into the National Team. Apart from achieving the obvious benefit of having the cricket team properly reflecting the racial diversity of Zimbabwe, the simple truth is that the pool of white players is far too small to sustain an internationally competitive side. The selling of the game to black Zimbabweans and creating and nurturing an increasing flow of black players through all levels into the National team, has to be achieved if the game we love is not to wither and die in Zimbabwe. The process of racial integration of the game of cricket should have achieved much more given the 21 years of Zimbabwe's life - it needs to be accelerated if the game is to survive.

A balance, however, needs to be drawn. Success of the National team on the field is essential to spreading and selling the game and providing the financial base to sustain and increase development and coaching programmes. If players are pushed onto the field because they are black and not because they merit selection the process will be self-defeating. How then is the balance to be achieved of increasing black representation in the National cricket team while maintaining and improving performance on the field? The answer is as with any human endeavour - by the exercise of commonsense, co-operation, understanding and looking for answers instead of problems.

The ZCU's implementation task force seeks the answer by setting goals for racial integration and not quotas. Cynics always seem to look for problems instead of answers and are quick to say goals really means quotas. That is by no means necessarily so. An objective look at the selection of the Zimbabwean team over the past 6 months shows that goals means goals and not quotas. The number of black players selected for the last 10 or so 1-day internationals, for example, has consistently been below the goal set - a situation which would not pertain if goals were quotas. A goal which we would recommend achieving is to provide a quota of one player representative to sit on the implementation task force committee - that should help enhance communication and understanding between players and officials.

Senior players in the National side need to understand and realise the aims and goals of integration. They need to lend their experience, maturity and ability to making the programme work. The creation of harmony, team spirit and a necessary positive attitude are vital components of success. That can only be achieved, and maintained, by the senior players. Negativity by even a single senior player can destroy in days what has taken years to build. Senior players need to realise that while they may have made Zimbabwe cricket what it is, Zimbabwe cricket has also made them what they are. Very few of them would have had the opportunity to play test cricket for any other Nation and they should see it as their duty to actively help create an integrated, growing and developing National cricket team - as their legacy to Zimbabwe cricket when their careers come to an end.

Those who misinterpret goals and quotas also, to our minds, tend to misunderstand merit. The truth of the matter, we believe, and we have followed cricket in Zimbabwe and across the world for close on 40 years, is that only two Zimbabwean players currently can claim to be selected truly on merit - with merit meaning a consistency of performance meeting the minimum standard expected for a test class of cricketer. Those players, to our minds, are Andy Flower - who is in a class of his own -and Heath Streak. A third player, though just at the start of his career, has made a beginning which shows the potential to scale the same heights as Andy Flower. That is Hamilton Masakadza. But the three tests this 18 year old has played, is far too soon to make a proper judgment on merit.

Other current Zimbabwean cricketers have reached the plateau of consistent performance at a level to merit automatic selection - but have sadly fallen away. Here we think of Grant Flower and Guy Whittal. Hopefully they will regain that plateau by pushing their test batting averages above the unacceptable minimum of 30 around which they now hover. The erratic and injury prone Paul Strang also falls into the category of a player who has in the past merited automatic selection. Henry Olonga is another such player. Stuart Carlisle is, in our view, approaching the plateau of automatically warranting selection on merit - but he is not yet there and needs to make more scores of substance. With all the other players there is real potential, occasional performance at the level required, but a frustrating lack of anything approaching the consistency necessary for automatic selection on merit.

Players whose claim to merit selection is that although they are performing badly and without consistency they are the best available - should not be surprised if selectors give other up and coming players the chance to test their mettle at the highest level. If those up and coming young players include as many black as white players, that is only commonsense given a diminishing pool of white players, an increasing pool of black players and the needs of the future. But once again there needs to be a balance. Young players, be they black or white, need to be nurtured and not thrown into the unforgiving cauldron of international cricket too soon - as that can result in a career of promise being stillborn.

What then of Alistair Campbell in this mix? He is an enigma. He has the natural talent to be a batsman of world class. At his best he stirs memories of David Gower, and at his very best there are even echoes of Graeme Pollock. But he lacks the necessary discipline and concentration. His test batting average of 26,93 after 50 tests would see him long since dropped from almost every other team in the world. We emphasise that by stating that an average of 40 is regarded as the bench mark for a frontline test batsman of world class. An average of 35 is regarded as just acceptable. But once that average slips below 33 to 30 it becomes unacceptably low. Alistair Campbell's average of 26.93 is way below the acceptable minimum for a frontline test batsman. He cannot seriously regard that performance level as warranting automatic selection on merit. It saddens us to say that because Alistair Campbell is one of the few batsman in Zimbabwe with the natural talent to be a world class test batsman. He needs to add application, discipline and concentration to that talent and to eliminate rashness to reach his potential. We, like every Zimbabwean cricket lover, hope that he will achieve that in the latter part of his career. And it has been encouraging to note that in the last year his performances at test level have improved. We should, perhaps, add that as a one-day batsman, Campbell's record is much better. But his average of 31.14 for a top order batsman in one-day cricket can only be regarded as acceptable as opposed to world class.

Regrettably the rashness and lack of discipline which punctuates Campbell's batting seems also to affect his comments to the press.

To blame Zimbabwe's poor recent performances on a perceived quota system for black players is, in our view, not correct. Zimbabwe has done amazingly well given its very small pool of players to be playing test cricket at all - let alone often being competitive against nations with massively greater playing resources. A sense of reality needs to accompany assessments of Zimbabwe's performance on the international cricketing stage. There will always be peaks and troughs, but in general, until the playing base is broadened, Zimbabwe will always struggle to compete. To an outsider the major difficulty in recent times has been the failure of senior players (and here we include Olonga) apart from Andy Flower and Heath Streak to perform consistently at an acceptable level - and indeed to have retrogressed in terms of level of performance. Hopefully that will change.

It is the duty of the senior players to mould team spirit and pull the team together, not to become a divisive force. They may not always like selectors decisions but that is a factor common to all players, all teams and all spectators across the world. They need to understand the aims and objectives of the selectors and the need to maintain the best possible team on merit, while also enhancing and ensuring the survival of Zimbabwe cricket by racial integration. Selectors and officials for their part must make sure that they properly understand the players and their concerns and keep open lines of communication. We don't pretend that the necessary balance is an easy one to draw -but it can be achieved by reasonable men working together.

We now turn to the specific comments made to the London Daily Telegraph by Alistair Campbell. Comments like those referring to "the race thing having spilt onto the field" and "the team being torn apart", are completely unhelpful and counter-productive. They create disharmony and conflict where sensible, rational discussion, understanding and agreement are necessary. They put into the glare of media publicity, matters which can and should be resolved by discussion in private between players and officials.

In fairness to Alistair Campbell he realises that. In a letter to Mr Chingoka, the President of the ZCU, on 17 October, he apologises "unreservedly for having spoken to the Press about these issues and affording them the opportunity of publishing the articles in question." He adds that it was exceptionally naive to do so, "knowing the subject at hand is so sensitive". He adds that "I must emphasise that I did not make any comments about the performance of black players, nor did I say that the inclusion of players of colour was adversely affecting team performance". He concludes by again expressing his sincere apologies for any harm caused to the ZCU and the game of cricket in Zimbabwe. Alistair Campbell has also assured the President of the ZCU and ourselves that he is not racist and believes in the racial integration of Zimbabwean cricket. We accept his assurances.

We hope that these proceedings have focused Alistair Campbell's mind. We hope that he realises his shortcomings and works diligently to correct them. We hope that he uses the opportunity we propose to give him to become a cohesive force in Zimbabwe cricket. We would like nothing better than for Alistair Campbell to achieve his potential and reach the level of a world class batsman which his natural talent allows. But to do that he will need to show a maturity which he has not yet shown, to replace rashness with discipline and carelessness with concentration. In view of the damage his loose words have caused, he will need to work tirelessly to help rebuild and nurture team spirit. That will take humility, maturity, strength of character and an understanding of others. We propose to give Alistair Campbell the chance to achieve this and hope that he will. But he must realise that no team or responsible cricket union can allow division and disunity to be paraded across newspaper pages as opposed to sensibly resolved by rational internal discussion. We hope the observations we have made will help enhance that process. But any repeat of similar ill chosen and ill considered words to the Press by Alistair Campbell could, in our view, only be regarded in a serious light.

Balancing all the factors we have tried to rationally analyse, we find Alistair Campbell in breach of Clause and of the his contract with the ZCU and in breach of Clause C8(a) and (b) of the ICC Code of Conduct (November 2000).

The penalty imposed is a suspension of Alistair Campbell for two test matches and two one-day internationals, which suspension is suspended for 12 months on condition Alistair Campbell does not in that period breach Clauses and of his contract with the ZCU or the equivalent clause of any new contract and on condition that he does not in that period breach Clause C8(a) or (b) of the ICC Code of Conduct (November 2000).



This the 31st day of October, 2001