ZImbabwe saga January 19, 2006

Carlisle slams 'spineless' ICC

Cricinfo staff

Stuart Carlisle: 'I feel sorry for a lot of the young players' © Getty Images
Stuart Carlisle has said that Zimbabwe have slumped to "rock bottom", after their board suspended their own Test status, and are in desperate need of help from the ICC to stop them sliding into oblivion. In a no-nonsense interview, he went on to say that the ICC were largely to blame for the current mess.

Speaking to the BBC, he confirmed that he and his team-mates had not been paid for several months - claims which Zimbabwe Cricket have said will be investigated by an independent body. With the players who had been on strike due to meet again at the weekend to discuss the latest developments, Carlisle said that in his opinion they will quit when they receive the money they are owed by the board. "The majority of the players will be walking away once they are paid - they've just had enough," he said. "I can't foresee Zimbabwe regaining Test status until they pay the players and sort out the product."

Carlisle left the international game when Heath Streak was removed from the captaincy in 2004. He made a brief return when Zimbabwe played New Zealand in August 2005, but quit again in October. He left behind what he told BBC Radio Four's Today programme was "an entire mess", and insisted Zimbabwe must "sort the product out or there will be no cricket of any quality.

"I think it is rock bottom. I feel sorry for a lot of the young players. They're better off playing in other countries at the minute." A number of former Zimbabwe players have already heeded that advice, including Sean Ervine who now plays for Hampshire, Heath Streak (Warwickshire), and the Flower brothers (Essex). Andy Blignaut, who was considered a candidate for the Zimbabwe captaincy, is currently playing in South Africa.

Carlisle went on to say that the exodus of the major players means the ICC must step in. "I think they're just proving to the cricketing world and players' union that they've got egg on their face, and they're turning it into a circus."

And he accused the ICC of being "spineless" in its relations with the Zimbabwe board, adding that it was to blame for the shambles which has resulted in Zimbabwe suspending itself from Test cricket for the second time in as many years.

"This is very embarrassing for cricket in Zimbabwe. I put 95% of the blame on the ICC. They could have done a lot more and avoided this. But they just didn't want to get involved. One day the ICC is going to have to stand up and make a decision on something. They can't always pass it on and say it's an 'internal matter'. They're going to have to grow a spine and make a decision."

Carlisle said he believed the whole crisis could have been avoided with more decisive action in 2004. In May of that year, Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, traveled to Harare to meet with the board but he was snubbed by officials who refused to meet him.

"Instead of sending Speed, they should have sent a committee," Carlisle argued. "They should have sent a three-man research team and spoken to players and administrators. They always get one side of the story. They could have sorted this out a long time ago."