Zimbabwe news January 18, 2013

Selection panel not only for former players

Following a week of mudslinging over Zimbabwe's Sports and Recreation Commission's (SRC) new directive governing selection committees, the mandate is set to be amended to include a minority of non ex-players. Initially, the policy said only former internationals could sit on the selection panel of all sports organisations, a suggestion which was greeted with great furore by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) in particular.

The revised order will mean most recent convenor of selectors Givemore Makoni could continue as a selector although he will not be able to chair it. It will also allow ZC to appoint a coach who is not a former national player and the new coach can also sit on the selection panel.

"The SRC stated that we would consider suggestions from any national sports associations to refine and improve the directive," David Coltart, Zimbabwe's minister of education, sport, arts and culture, told ESPNcricinfo. "The principle issue remains binding and the majority of selectors and the chair have to be ex-national players."

Changes to the directive are expected to be announced in the next week and it is due to come into effect on February 1. ZC is the body most likely to appreciate the loosening of the provisio because of the impact it will have on the appointment of a new national coach. Historically, Zimbabwe's national cricket coach has not been a selector and only advised the panel but in October last year ZC changed that. The coach now acts as a selector as well which meant that if the directive remained as it was originally written, ZC would have had to appoint a former player as the coach because he would also have had to operate as a selector.

That would have had the most obvious effect on current assistant coach Stephen Mangongo, who is one of three applicants in line to replace current coach, Alan Butcher. Zimbabwe's tour to West Indies, which starts next month and ends on March 24, will be Butcher's last in charge because he has opted not to renew his contract. Mangongo, current batting coach Grant Flower and bowling coach Heath Streak have all put their names in the hat to be appointed to the main job.

Mangongo is the only one who has not played for Zimbabwe and the only black African of the three. His exclusion as coach because of the requirement that he would also have had to be a selector was labelled "racist," by Makoni.

Coltart denied any agenda to exclude black Zimbabweans from positions of power in sport. He also appears mindful of the consequences the initial directive could have on those who were denied opportunity to play international sport because of racial prejudices in the past.

Makoni, who was set to lose his post on the selection panel, will now also be eligible for it provided he is part of a minority of non ex-players. Zimbabwe's last three-person selection committee comprised of Makoni, former Test player Wayne James and the late Kevin Curran. Since Curran's death, James and Butcher have been selectors although Makoni continued to have a casting vote.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent