October 12, 2000

Alistair Campbell's Zimbabwe Diary

Zimbabwe's leading batsman writes exclusively for CricInfo, starting with his reaction to his controversial suspension after a show of dissent in the ICC KnockOut

Our participation in the ICC Knockout was brief, but very enjoyable apart from our on-field antics.

The ICC and the Kenya Cricket Board have spared nothing in making sure that this tournament would be something special and its theme - the Spirit of Africa - was certainly felt by all who were there and are still there.

As I have mentioned our participation was brief - we lost to New Zealand in the quarter-final stage by 65 runs. It was not without incident however as yours truly was adjudged lbw by umpire Steve Bucknor.

I was slightly peeved to say the least - and replays showed I had every right to be. However the match referee thought that I had shown too much emotion and decided to bring me up on charges of dissent. To cut a long story short I was found guilty and have been given a one-match suspension.

People who watched the game may have differing opinions as to whether I deserved punishment or not but the fact of the matter is that it was at a crucial point - it may in fact have cost us the game - and I got punished for showing emotion justifiably as the replays confirmed.

I feel that there is too much inconsistency in the interpretation of the laws of the game by match referees. I'm sure those of you who follow the game will agree that you have not watched a match in which you haven't seen outbursts from players in the heat of battle, heard obscenities over the stump microphone or lip read as you probably did in my case.

These are passionate men playing in a highly-pressurized atmosphere and in such environs, tempers do flare and passions run high. With the much bigger issues confronting the game, forgive me for feeling a little aggrieved.

Well, the deed has been done and the sentence passed so my next report will come to you from the lovely emirate of Sharjah - we are competing in the Sharjah Cup with India and Sri Lanka. It will probably come to you from the wrong side of the boundary rope, where I will need something to do while serving my suspension.

This is the latest episode in what has been an eventful few weeks. Our home series against New Zealand earlier this month after a brief rest met with mixed fortunes!

After our great showing in England to reach the final of the NatWest Series, expectations were high for a good start to the season. However they were soon impaired when the team were informed of the departures of Neil Johnson - back to South Africa, and Murray Goodwin - back to Australia. As if this wasn't enough the ZCU (Zimbabwe Cricket Union) then fired Andy Flower as captain of the national team.

Cricketers and public country-wide were bemused to say the least, but somehow we had to move on and prepare for a test series. A selectoral mishap saw Guy Whittall, now vice-captain, miss the First Test in protest, which added to the aggravation and puzzlement of the side.

Needless to say we were not at our best as there were many distractions. However the "Black Caps" outplayed us in the Test Matches because they played the pressure points better than we did, and they comfortably won the first One Day game.

The tour had the makings of a disaster, but a long team meeting and some straight talking managed to stir us up enough to play very good cricket in the back-to-back one-dayers in Bulawayo and enable us to take the series 2-1. I managed to get a few in these two games - 96 and 99 not out respectively. Still couldn't get a hundred!

The selectors gave two youngsters debuts in the Bulawayo games - namely Travis Friend and Doug Marillier. They both had great debuts, with Marillier excelling in the second game with a score of 46. This goes to show that the new CFX Cricket Academy is doing a great job.