The Zimbabwe crisis July 4, 2004

We tried to save cricket in Zimbabwe: Carlisle

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Stuart Carlisle has hit out against the Zimbabwean Cricket Union, saying that the move by some of the players to go on strike was prompted by what he claimed were racist and politically motivated policies by the board.

Carlisle, who was among 15 cricketers banned by the board, is now part of a 14-man squad called The Red Lions which will tour England for a series of friendly games. Speaking at a fund-raising dinner to launch the tour, Carlisle said: "Our group went through this extremely stressful period not to destroy cricket in Zimbabwe but to try and save it. It did not all start three months ago (with the strike), but in 2001 when the Zimbabwe Cricket Union launched its Task Force."

The Task Force was meant to provide more opportunities for blacks to take to the game, but Carlisle stated that it only ended up alienating the players. "The result [of the Task Force's actions] was we lost 35 players, both black and white during the last three years," Carlisle said, according to an AFP report. "At that time the players formed their own association and we were internationally recognised, but not by the ZCU. Had they done so, we would not be in disarray today.

"Because of this, players had to try and fix off-field problems individually. And so they were targeted. And when some players actually refused the captaincy or vice-captaincy, it shows how serious the situation became. Past form, performance, statistics, experience and merit are words that have not been in the selectors' vocabulary for a long time.

"And so, when an employer refuses to meet employees about all this, problems inevitably occur. In putting our international careers on the line it was a sure sign we had had enough. It turned out we were all sacked three times in a month. Can that have happened anywhere before?"

Carlisle, who played 35 Tests and 108 ODIs for Zimbabwe, will now play for The Red Lions in a week-long tour of England, which starts on July 14 and includes matches against a Lashings XI and a Zimbabwe World XI.