Another stalwart jettisoned September 7, 2004

Veteran umpire Ian Robinson sacked by ZCU

Ian Robinson: 'No-one has actually told me anything' © Getty Images
Not content with jettisoning most of the international playing experience at its disposal, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) has also axed Ian Robinson, its stalwart umpire and an experienced administrator.

However, Robinson, 57, a veteran of 28 Test matches, 90 one-day internationals and three World Cup tournaments, has refused to go quietly and is challenging the terms of what the ZCU has told him is his retrenchment. "I've not accepted the package they have offered me," said Robinson from Harare on Tuesday, "and we are now locked in negotiations with lawyers."

Besides being Zimbabwe's most senior umpire - he has been a fixture on their first-class panel since 1978, and made his international debut in Zimbabwe's inaugural Test against India at Harare in 1992 - Robinson fulfilled an important function as the ZCU's international cricket manager. He became a cricket administrator in 1978. He was a ZCU board member for 14 years, and a ZCU employee for the past nine years.

Robinson said he did not understand why the ZCU wanted to get rid of him. "They can't say it was due to poor performance in my job because they've never told me that," he said. "No-one has actually told me anything. All I have in writing is that it is due to a restructuring exercise."

Robinson was told on August 13 - Friday the 13th - that his services would not be required from the end of the month. However, his challenge to that decision means he remains on the payroll until the dispute is settled.

Robinson said the bigger blow had been his complete removal from the umpiring ranks, a decision he is prepared to fight. "I hope there's some way for me to be of service to cricket, especially on the umpiring side," Robinson said. "That seems to have been taken away from me, but I am challenging it because I have it in writing.

"During the retrenchment talks they spoke about retaining my expertise as an umpire, retaining me on a consultancy basis to do some training and development of umpires, and umpiring local cricket. I was reassured I would be reappointed as an umpire, but that hasn't happened. It would be very sad if I was to have nothing to do with cricket in the future, because it has been a major part of my life."

The chairman and acting managing director of the ZCU, Peter Chingoka, declined to discuss the issue and told Wisden Cricinfo to put its questions on Robinson's position in writing. However, a ZCU receptionist in Harare confirmed that Robinson had been sidelined. "Mr Robinson is no longer with the organisation," said the receptionist, who declined to be named.

Robinson said his son, Brad, had resigned as the Zimbabwe team's physiotherapist and returned to private practice.

Chingoka has denied reports from Zimbabwe that the controversial ZCU board member Ozais Bvute had become the organisation's acting managing director. The position became vacant after Vince Hogg resigned in June. Asked who the acting MD was, Chingoka said: "I am. I get assistance from various board members, but in the main I am assisted by Ozais Bvute."

Bvute has been accused of "guerrilla behaviour" by the 15 rebels whose refusal to play for Zimbabwe prompted an International Cricket Council investigation into allegations of racism in Zimbabwean cricket.