Mashonaland Cricket Association in chaos as non-white clubs withdraw

The Mashonaland Cricket Association's annual general meeting (AGM) ended in chaos at Harare Sports Club on Friday evening when the non-white clubs announced that they had pulled out of the league.

They cited an unfair representation on the MCA Board as their main reason to quit the league. This was after the elections to fill four vacancies on the board created by rotation and retirement.

Spokesman of the clubs Stephen Mangongo said that they were now looking at forming their own league.

"We came to this meeting with sincerity and wanted to see a board that is truly representative of all stakeholders. But what we saw was whites, because of their numerical advantage, deciding to ensure that there is a white-majority on the board and also to throw out the black nominees. What's that?

"We had more white teams voting and obviously they are against integration or getting together of cricket between blacks and whites. One thing for sure is that in Mashonaland province I have been given a serious pledge and commitment by all chairmen of non-white clubs that they are pulling out as of tonight.

"We convened an urgent meeting soon after the AGM where we all made the commitment to pull out. We are meeting on Sunday to work out the modalities in Mashonaland. Blacks and Asians are brothers in arms and we are both saying that whites should open up cricket. We have not had problems with the Asians because they have suffered the same way as blacks.

"If whites don't want to integrate others in a lawful manner, where we can all benefit, then we have to go our separate ways. We can have a white cricket association and a non-white association if that's the way we are going to do it. It will be bad for cricket in Zimbabwe but if we have to do that we will do it. They have put us in a corner and this is not a threat. We mean it."

Earlier, members at the meeting had proposed to have club cricket extended into winter as the national team was now playing in winter. This would ensure that players not in the national team would be playing cricket elsewhere.

There was also a proposal to have a break between December and February to avoid rain disruptions. But then members were reminded that the 2003 World Cup will take place in February and six of those matches will be in Zimbabwe. This means that locals have to be used to playing cricket in February. There is also the requirement that when the national team is on tour, fringe players should be involved in domestic cricket. The national team is usually committed between December and February and this meant that there should be domestic cricket during that period.

There was also a proposal to have two or three-day cricket and not limited-overs cricket at club level to make locals competitive. It was felt that it was easier to adjust to one-day cricket from two or three-day cricket than vice-versa.

It was noted that it was becoming very difficult to run club cricket these days and there was need for funding from the MCA and Zimbabwe Cricket Union.

Clubs expressed their displeasure at the late disbursements of prize money. MCA will hold a board meeting on Monday to discuss these proposals and others.