Get involved 'or suffer the consequences' March 30, 2006

Stakeholders pleaded for the ICC to help

Cricinfo has been given a copy of a confidential letter sent to the ICC on March 11 by leading Zimbabwe stakeholders ahead of the recent executive meeting in Dubai in which they pleaded for help in solving the crisis affecting cricket in the country. The request seems to have fallen on deaf ears, as the executive agreed to allow Peter Chingoka, the chairman of the interim board, to carry on heading Zimbabwe Cricket.

The eight-page letter, from Charlie Robertson, a veteran administrator and chairman of the provincial associations, and Ethan Dube, a former national selector, was sent to directly to Ehsan Mani, the ICC's president. In it, they outlined their take on the situation and argued that since the appointment of an interim board in January, things had continued to get worse, calling on the ICC to stop recognising Chingoka as the head of the board.

"Since we last wrote to you, Zimbabwe cricket as deteriorated further, both on and off the pitch, to the extent we must now make a last impassioned direct approach to the ICC to take action." The letter then detailed the player defections, and warned of the "certain embarrassment and humiliation" which they predict when Zimbabwe take on West Indies next month, adding that this also undermined the international game's integrity.

The letter went on to highlight the domestic structure, which it stated was in "disarray". The suspension of the Logan Cup, Zimbabwe's first-class competition, "renders it impossible as things stand for any player to have provincial cricket" and it also slammed the poor standard in the recent Faithwear Cup, the domestic one-day tournament.

The most damning criticisms, however, relate to governance issues. The letter lambasted the interim board for its "dearth of cricket experience" and also for not being racially reflective of Zimbabwe cricket. "We are at a loss to understand how it is that the ICC can (quite rightly in our opinion) lay out its policy shunning racism ... but yet at the same time remain silent regarding the orchestrated racial cleansing of the ZC board." It also asked why no forensic audit had taken place, querying the "unreasonable delay which has elapsed (six months) since it was called for".

The letter called on the ICC to suspend funding to ZC pending a "full and proper investigation" into allegations raised by Robertson last year, and to appoint an independent legal and/or audit team with terms of reference to investigate allegations of impropriety in ZC, and assisted, if necessary, by the ICC's own Anti-Corruption Unit."

The letter concluded with an impassioned plea for action. "In making this approach, we would like to make it clear this will be our last attempt to salvage the position. The ICC in its capacity as global custodian of cricket must now act decisively to end the crisis in our country, or suffer the consequences of inaction.

"We do not want it said that the ICC appears content to continue to adopt a policy of appeasement towards ZC, when the latter is so clearly neither mindful nor interested in meeting the standards which the ICC has laid down.

"The interim committee [of ZC] is on record as stating that Zimbabwe does not need Test cricket. Such irresponsible and even irreverent public statements amount to a slap in the face for the ICC, and make it abundantly clear that the powers-that-be who claim to be in charge of cricket in Zimbabwe do not possess an inkling of appreciation for how hard this country worked to gain selection to the ICC."

An ICC spokesman confirmed that the letter had been received and said that a reply would be sent "in the next few days". He declined to comment further on what was a private correspondence.