We have been concerned for some time about what we consider to be the unprofessional manner of selection. There has been interference of a non-sporting nature. There has, in our view, been racial and ethnic discrimination in the selection of the National Team. We must stress that we wholeheartedly support the Development Objectives of the ZCU and the need to take the Game to the majority of Zimbabweans. However in our view, there has been so much interference that deserving Players of all races have been excluded from both the National Team and the Zimbabwe A Team solely because of their race or region from where they come. For example a Board members instruction to re-select a Team already ratified by the ZCU as well as threats made by yet another Board member of "Boycotts and Pitch Invasions". These were made on discriminatory grounds! This interference has gone way beyond the Developmental Objectives of the ZCU's own policy documents, including the Mission Statement, which reads that it "will develop cricket for the benefit of all Zimbabweans without discrimination of any kind". We believe that problems of this kind can be rectified if minimum qualifications for Selectors were introduced, as we have suggested, and if those responsible for the interference in team selection are made accountable and if necessary disciplined in a transparent manner by the Board. We should also stress that the minimum qualifications proposed by the players are not discriminatory and indeed it would in our view be easy for a selection panel to be established with a majority of qualified black Zimbabweans. Names that come to mind would be Ethan Dube and Mpumelelo Mbangwa (Providing he is willing to give up his commentary) both of whom are qualified, ex-national players who could also solve the problem of Matabeleland being represented on the Selection Panel.
ii) To have played 5 or 6 years of First Class Cricket.
iii) To have represented the Zimbabwe National Team.
We are aware that Heath has been pressing for the financing (as is the norm in other Test Playing Nations) of a Players Association Representative who will relieve pressure that Heath currently has in the absence of such representation. This Players Representative must be elected without the interference of the ZCU, as this person is there to represent the Player body and their issues. Only recently has the ZCU agreed to the shared financing of this Representative with the Players.
We are aware that Heath has proposed that there be a Minimum Wage for all the Players contracted with the ZCU. We were particularly heartened by this move made by Heath as it is not an issue that affects him personally as his contract terms (being a senior Player and Captain) has been favourable. This was an initiative that he had undertaken on behalf of all Players regardless of race and in particular on behalf of young up-and-coming Players. As far as we are aware the Board has not given this issue it's urgent attention. Some youngsters are ending their six-month Contracts and others are at crossroads in making alternative career choices. Therefore, it is with great urgency that the ZCU identify future Players and incorporate them into long-term plans. We should stress that many of us are holding favourable Contracts in terms of finance and our concern is not to improve our own conditions but rather those of our teammates who are not presently on livable wages considering the inflation rate that prevails. We would also like to encourage young people to identify with Cricket as a career option.
We propose that National League Cricket be reinstated in the forthcoming season and that Clubs be given financial support to enable the upkeep of their infrastructure, which are in dire straits. We are deeply concerned by the collapse of some cricketing establishments, especially at Government school level and believe that money should be directed this way to secure the future of the Game. The unnecessary expenditure of Board Member Overseas Travel could, we believe be channeled into more important areas ( eg the survival of Clubs in Zimbabwe and scholarship programmes).
Heath has advised us that he has during the last few weeks requested meetings with Board Members and in particular the Chairman of the ZCU to discuss the abovementioned concerns and that he was advised that neither the Chairman nor some Board Members found it necessary to meet with him. Once again we have no reason to doubt his word on this matter as he has expressed his frustration in this regard both to Mr Hogg and ourselves on frequent occasions. Indeed the manner in which Heath was treated last Friday, by not being afforded the courtesy as National Team Captain of a hearing with the Board (before they decided to terminate his services) confirms in our minds the contempt with which we are viewed and treated by certain elements of the Board. This comes as a particular surprise as Heath has continually supported and defended the ZCU along with giving 10 years of service and dedication to his country. Seemingly, despite being Zimbabwe's leading test wicket taker of all time, no effort was made to dissuade Heath to reconsider his position in the future of Zimbabwe Cricket.
We are reliably advised that the decision taken on Friday to terminate Heath's Contract was made by 3 Board members. We further understand that these 3 members of the Board effectively bulldozed other Board members into accepting their position. We do not believe such action to be in the interests of Cricket and must in fact have been motivated by a non-sporting and personal agenda. We are deeply concerned that such a momentous decision was taken in the absence of esteemed and wise Board members such as Mr Justice Ebrahim, Mr Clive Barnes and Mr Kevin Arnott. The later incidentally, excused himself late in the meeting prior to Heath's issues being tabled. Furthermore, we fail to understand why Heath's issues were tabled at the end of the meeting under "Any Other Business". In our view, this was an extremely important matter and it would seem the decision was rushed through with no window being allowed for further discussions with Heath or for other opinions to be sought. It would seem that Heath's views were also mis-represented in this meeting.
We have been made aware that at least one black journalist Mehluli Sibanda and at least one black Player (who has asked us not to reveal his name for his own safety) have been phoned and threatened by a member of the Board not to side with Heath.
We have been reliably informed that a Provincial General Manager and Chairman of a Province both threatened to Boycott the fourth ODI vs. Bangladesh, along with making threats of a "Pitch Invasion and Digging up the Wicket" at Harare Sports Club. This was due to the Teams racial balance which they felt contained too few Players of colour. This Team was selected on Merit by the National Selection Panel and ratified by the Vice-Chairman of the ZCU along with being released to the Media. It was only after 5 hours of persuasion going well into the night, that the Vice Chairman managed to convince the above not to carry out their threats. The 5 hours of persuasion not to follow through with threats made is in direct contrast to the way the ZCU handled Heaths concerns!! This is even more ironic bearing in mind, Heath was trying to improve the State of Cricket in Zimbabwe rather than to destroy it as the above appeared to be.
Once again, we have been reliably informed (and can be officially verified by that source if necessary) that a Board member suggested during the above selection meeting that Mark Vermuelen be offered "a double match fee, NOT to play" in the ODI that he'd already been selected for and been informed of!! The suggestion was made to try and pave the way for Stuart Matsikanyeri, who had been dropped, to play. It was only after the National Coach and Heath refused to be involved in dealings that would bring the Game of Cricket into disrepute (ICC Code of Conduct), that the suggestion was retracted.