The Zimbabwe crisis November 24, 2005

Dark days for Zimbabwe as Taibu bows out



Tatenda Taibu: joins the exodus which has left Zimbabwe's cupboard bare © AFP
Tatenda Taibu has announced that he is to stand down as Zimbabwe captain and also that he has quit international cricket. He is expected to head abroad to continue his career, and a player of his calibre will be much sought after.

"I am doing this, 80% because of the current situation in Zimbabwe Cricket and 20% because I do not like the terms of my offered contract," he said. "The personal threats I have also had do not help.I have considered this very carefully and I'm certain it's the right decision for me in the long term."

Taibu revealed that he was again threatened by the controversial Themba Mliswa this week while meeting Peter Chingoka, the board chairman, at a hotel in Harare.

Taibu said his fellow players had not agreed to him meeting Chingoka, but he had hoped he would salvage something from the discussion. After the chairman had asked Taibu to put his concerns in writing, he told him that all concerns the players had were in the public statement read at the press conference a fortnight ago. "I told Chingoka that Bvute knew of these things. We had been trying to tell them about it, and they have been turning their backs."

Supporters of the Zimbabwe board have accused Taibu of being used, but he dismissed those suggestions. "I have got my own mind. I make my own decisions. I have managed to lead a young side in international cricket. Why should I allow myself to be tossed up now?"

The announcement of his resignation brought a swift response from Zimbabwe Cricket, who sought again to portray this as being about money and not having anything to do with the dispute between its senior officials and the country's players. An spokesman claimed that it could not afford Taibu's financial demands for a monthly salary of around US$4000, although critics were quick to point out that this was less than half the salary allegedly earned by some senior administrators inside ZC.

It is unclear where this leaves Taibu's proposed deal to play for the Cape Cobras. The contract was arranged by Ozias Bvute, the board's MD, and Taibu was expected to fly out tomorrow. While the ZC spokesman claimed that only yesterday Taibu had met with the board to thrash out the terms of the package, Taibu himself claimed that "the discussions with Bvute were unfruitful." It is, however, being reported that he will be playing in England in 2006.

In a side bereft of players who are nearly good enough to play on the international stage, Taibu, at 22, was Zimbabwe's best young hope. His decision means that four of their most experienced and able cricketers - Taibu, Heath Streak, Craig Wishart and Stuart Carlisle - have quit in the last three months. For the first time since it became a Test-playing country in 1992, ZImbabwe arguably no longer has a player of Test class.

Since making his debut as an 18-year-old against West Indies in 2001, Taibu has played 24 Tests (10 as captain), scoring 1273 runs at an average of 29.60, and 84 ODIs, making 1410 runs at 25.47. If those figures are not spectacular, it needs to be remembered that most of his games have been as part of a hopelessly outclassed side.

Comment - Another step towards extinction

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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