More questions than answers January 6, 2007

Chingoka stonewalls over major issues

Cricinfo staff

Peter Chingoka: 'My being at the helm has not been an issue of longevity but service to the game' © Getty Images
A week after being re-elected as chairman of the new board of Zimbabwe Cricket, Peter Chingoka gave an exclusive interview with Lawrence Moyo in the Herald newspaper.

Although there were some direct questions put to Chingoka, seeking answers to many of the criticisms and accusations levelled at him, he offered up little in the way of explanation or defence, often answering in very general or non committal terms.

He was most open about the advantages of the newly-elected board, referring to the "continuity and stable financial control" the four-year term will give. "With the issue of governance sorted out, focus will now be on the field of play where, in fact, it should always be because the playing of the game is the core business of Zimbabwe Cricket."

But critics of Chingoka, and there are many within Zimbabwe even if not inside ZC any longer, would be depressed by his response to the question whether this would be his last term in office: "My tenure is at the behest of the ZC electorate so it is that electorate which can best answer your question. My being at the helm has not been an issue of longevity but service to the game." Asked why he remained when he had said he wanted to leave in 2005, he replied: "Since then calls have been made on me to avail myself to the game."

Perhaps his most remarkable answer came when Moyo asked about disgruntled stakeholders who opposed him and who had been removed from positions of authority. "Stakeholders cannot be kept away from the game because the stakeholders, as the name says, are those people with a stake in the game," he claimed. "If they are away from it, then they cannot be stakeholders. Moyo also asked about accusations levelled against him. "Investigations are carried out by professionals who are not affected by my presence or absence from office," he replied, neatly sidestepping the fact that nobody has any idea when or if those reports will ever materialise.

Chingoka repeatedly referred to the "electorate" and "democracy", even though his critics maintain he has run roughshod over both during his purge of all opposition. Asked whether the gang of three - himself, Tavengwa Mukuhlani and Cyprian Mandenge - would effectively run the game, he insisted that was not the case. "It is unfair to the other 10 members of the board to infer that they will sit and clap while the three of us run the show. Running cricket involves much more than just what happens in the rope. Let it be noted that, among the 13 of us, none has less passion for the game of cricket than the others, and so we are all, to the number, cricket people."

He also dismissed suggestions the board was in financial trouble. "Like all other Test-playing nations, we work on a four-year cycle based on income from the ICC World Cup which is our main source of revenue."

And what about reports that cheques had bounced? "The ZC board was disappointed to hear of the bouncing cheques as it does not condone such practice. Management has been reprimanded and remedial work is underway to tighten the financial controls.

Moyo also asked whether, given recent poor results, the side would be ready to resume Test cricket in November, as is the intention. "Yes, the results after that have not been good but there is no argument that the talent abounds and that what is needed now is continued exposure.

"We are determined to turn around the fortunes of the team. We intend, in the short term, to regain ninth position in the ODI rankings and, medium-long term, to move up the ladder. In preparation for the resumption of Test

participation, we have a programme that will see us play about 12 longer-version games against the A sides of Test-playing nations. That programme started with us playing a three-day match followed by a four-dayer against Bangladesh A last month. One could see signs of improvement in the second match, resulting in the game ending as a draw."