Steyn Kombayi accused of bias in team choices

Selectors undermine Northerns' Logan campaign

Steven Price

May 21, 2007

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Questions are being asked about the selection issues which have blighted Northerns' Logan Cup campaign. Northerns, who were expected to be among the pace setters in the tournament, finished the bottom Zimbabwe side and failed to win any of their five matches.

An insider told Cricinfo that the main problem was that a number of players did not see eye-to-eye with Steyn Kombayi, the board's general manager for Harare and a regional and national selector.

"Kombayi does not like Tafadzwa Mufambisi who, in my view, is a better wicketkeeper than Brendan Taylor," the source said. "Mufambisi was left out of the Northerns match against Westerns (in which they were bowled out for 47) for no reason. I am actually told that the Northerns team for that particular match was announced after the toss as they were not sure who was actually playing." Kombayi is understood to have claimed that Mufambisi, who has played six ODIs for Zimbabwe, had attitude problems.

Kombayi is said to be pushing for the selection of Regis Chakabva, the former Under-19 keeper, for the national team. Chakabva's inclusion in the A side against Kenya caused more than a few raised eyebrows given his moderate form in the handful of matches he has played.

Another source said that Graeme Cremer had refused to play in one match after Alois Tichana was named captain. Cremer, it was claimed, "was getting frustrated that he was being captained by someone who could not even set a field for his bowling".

Zimbabwe's wicketkeeper-batsman Brendan Taylor was unavailable after having a row over contracts, and although he did report for training ahead of the match against Westerns, he withdrew at the last minute.

Kombayi is also thought to have major issues with Takashinga, arguably the best club in the country, and is to all intents blocking players who have come through the club. To this end he is being backed by Terrry Mumbwandarika, the ZC operations assistant manager, who is also anti-Takashinga and who is also a Northerns selector.

What is not clear is why provincial chairman Cyprina Mandenge has allowed the situation to deteriorate so far and why, given Northerns dismal performance, he has not insisted that the best side be picked.

Steven Price is a freelance journalist based in Harare

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