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February 1, 2005
Zimbabwe's selectors have found a new scapegoat for their Test and one-day series defeats in Bangladesh - Phil Simmons, their recently appointed coach.
The results confirm that Zimbabwe are now the worst side in the world in both forms of the game - regardless of what the ICC Championships might indicate - but, given the number of major players they have lost in the last two or three years, that is hardly surprising. There were signs of promise. In the one-day series Zimbabwe were 2-0 up before losing the next three games, and in doing so became only the second side to squander a 2-0 lead in a five-match one-day series.
As the recriminations started in Harare, Richie Kaschula, a member of the national selection panel and a former national player, told the Herald that the selectors weren't to blame as they hadn't had any say in the sides for the last three games.
"Actually we are not at all happy about it, and when Simmons arrives at the airport he will head straight for a meeting with us before going home," Kaschula insisted. "The team is much better than what we have seen of late and something is definitely wrong."
There was a selector - Ethan Dube - with the side, but he returned home early and so left picking the sides to Simmons. Other senior board officials, however, were with the squad.
"Phil must be held responsible for what has been happening in Bangladesh," Kaschula continued. "Phil was left in charge and we, as selectors, are not happy with what has been happening. Phil was in charge of the team and he was doing his own things in selecting the teams that played, ignoring some of the things we told him.
"For instance, on the issue of Dion Ebrahim, we told him to drop the player long back but he kept using him and there is also Mluleki Nkala who has been on tour but not playing. He had 16 players to choose a team from, based on the game plan and also the state of the wicket.
"When we asked about Nkala on Sunday, Phil said the player was injured but he then phoned back four hours later to say that he was now in the team. Does that mean that he had recovered in those four hours?"
Kaschula admitted that the 16-man squad was too heavy and that in future no more than 14 would be picked for one-day series, and also that it was vital that a selector be with the squad at all times.
Zimbabwe have a fortnight to regroup before they take on the far more daunting prospect of South Africa.