The Zimbabwe crisis December 3, 2005

Ebrahim confident despite Chingoka and Bvute's no show

Cricinfo staff

Ahmed Ebrahim: 'We feel we can bring about recovery of Zimbabwe cricket' © ZC
The Zimbabwe Cricket stakeholders meeting called by Justice Ahmed Ebrahim was adjourned until Wednesday after what one participant described as fruitful discussions.

Ebrahim, who is a vice-president of ZC, said that he called the meeting as he had decided that he needed to persuade the authorities that they had to help to resolve a deteriorating situation. Almost all those invited to attend were present, although the two figures at the centre of the crisis, Peter Chingoka, the ZC chairman, and Ozias Bvute, the MD, were not. Ebrahim told the meeting that he had attempted to speak to them since Friday but had not been able to get in touch. Lovemore Banda, the ZC media spokesman, said that the pair were unaware that the meeting was taking place.

"We half expected Chingoka and Bvute to turn up and declare our meeting invalid, but they didn't do so," Ebrahim told AFP. "We'll see if they come to the next one."

Perhaps crucially, the players indicated that while they would not play were Bvute and Chingoka to remain, they told Ebrahim that they would commit to a new Zimbabwe board. "This means they will practise and train ahead of the Asia Cup tournament in Bangladesh during January," he explained. "With the overall strength of the turnout, we feel we can bring about recovery of Zimbabwe cricket, even though the finances have been reduced to dire levels, and even though it will take a long time.

"This is a start, and we hope we can gather growing support, not least from TV organisations, sponsors and many backers. We have an awfully long way to go. But 200 employees are relying on us, as well as the great number of cricket supporters in this country. We are in a period of great change."

The 40-strong meeting discussed the crisis, and while there were some calls for Bvute to be suspended as an employee of the board, the consensus was that this would be unfair until he was found to have broken the board's constitution. What was agreed, however, was the urgent need for the forensic audit of the accounts to be undertaken.

Ebrahim suggested that the meeting reconvene on Wednesday to allow him time to consider some of the issues raised and to take third-party advice on them.

He did, however, stress that the crisis should be solved from within, warning that they needed to be sensitive to the political issues. The implication was that were the ICC to start getting to heavily involved then the authorities might not welcome intervention, which could compromise ongoing investigations into the board's activities.

Bvute and Chingoka's absence could be explained by the news that they were talking to the police as part of ongoing investigations into alleged foreign currency violations by board officials. "Zimbabwe Cricket will cooperate fully with the police," Bvute said in a media release.