Zimbabwe cricket August 7, 2008

Brown ousted as Zimbabwe coach

Although official confirmation had proved hard to come by, Cricinfo has learned that Robin Brown has been fired from his position as national coach by Zimbabwe Cricket. Brown's contract expires at the end of August and sources say he has been told that it won't be extended beyond that.

Andy Pycroft, the Zimbabwe A coach, has also been dismissed in a controversial shake-up which could leave Zimbabwe Cricket struggling to fill the voids.

It appears that the strong influence of the Takashinga, a club with strong links to both the Zimbabwe board and the ruling Zanu-PF regime, has played a major part in the decision. The faction never got along with Brown on a personality level, it its feared his sacking owed more to that than outright cricketing reasons.

It is rumoured that Steven Mangongo, a leading Takashinga official with few cricketing credentials, has been appointed as an interim replacement for Brown.

The group accused Brown of favouring certain white players, an accusation which has been refuted by some national team players. The Zimbabwe cricket team is dominantly black and the few white players who have remained are actually key players.

"Axes were always being sharpened for Brown barely days into the job," said an insider. "This is one of the indistinct circumstances a coach has been fired. There is a certain power-hungry group which controls Zimbabwe Cricket from outside the top brass. Unfortunately we have a meek administration so they are easily controlled by them."

Brown was unavailable for comment nor was anyone from the board. One former player said that Brown's departure raised issues over who would succeed him. "All the home-grown candidates have either been tried or turned their backs," he said. "Nobody with any credibility from overseas would touch the job, so you wonder who on earth they will turn to."

Steven Price is a freelance journalist based in Harare