Press Statement: Zimbabwe Cricket Explain Why They Fired Streak, Entire Technical Team

During an emergency meeting of the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) Board of Directors on 25 March 2018, among the Board resolutions passed were the following:

That the convener, national technical team staff, the Zimbabwe ‘A’ technical team staff and the Under-19 technical team staff should resign, failing which the Board will dismiss the staff members by giving the required notice;That the convener, national technical team staff, the Zimbabwe ‘A’ technical team staff and the Under-19 technical team staff should cease to do their duties forthwith;That the ZC Managing Director conveys the Board’s resolutions to the staff members concerned and update the Board; andThat an Interim Selection Panel will be appointed that will serve up to the Pakistan and Australia matches in June/July and thereafter their performance will be reviewed.

Following which, the ZC Managing Director and his team advised the concerned technical staff members about the resolutions passed by the ZC Board. The concerned staff members were given until 3 pm last Friday to make a decision regarding their resignations, failing which they should consider themselves dismissed.

The Managing Director spoke personally with his direct reports (i.e. the National Head Coach and the Convener of Selectors) and, in accordance with proper procedures, requested the Head Coach (as the concerned supervisor) to speak in turn to his own staff and direct reports.

The ZC Head of Cricket Affairs was tasked by the Managing Director to advise the technical teams under his purview, namely the Under-19 and the Zimbabwe ‘A’ technical teams.  The Head Coaches of both those teams were accordingly advised.

In all, the following 13 impacted members of staff were advised of the Board resolutions:

National team technical staff

National Head Coach Heath Streak       Batting Coach Lance Klusener       Fielding Coach Walter Chawaguta       Analyst Stanley Chioza       Fitness Trainer Sean Bell       Physiotherapist Anesu Mupotaringa

Zimbabwe ‘A’ technical staff

Zimbabwe A Coach Douglas Hondo       Assistant Coach Wayne James

Zimbabwe Under-19 technical staff

Head Coach Stephen Mangongo       Bowling Coach Prosper Utseya       Batting Coach Gregory Lamb       Fitness Trainer Walter Karimanzira

National team selection panel

Convenor Tatenda Taibu

ZC has so far received five formal resignations, which have all been accepted.

As the 3 pm Friday deadline has passed, the above former members of ZC staff can now consider themselves no longer employed by ZC. Their contracts have been terminated and they are no longer required to carry out any technical team-related duties. The ZC human resources process will now conclude matters in a proper manner.

The Board has also declared its intention to revamp the entire selection process for all its National teams. This is an important aspect, the performance of which has fallen well short of expectations.

It is important that the public understands why the ZC Board has taken these decisions. The actions taken by the Board are only and purely as a result of the very unsatisfactory performances and results of the Zimbabwe National team, the Zimbabwe ‘A’ team and the Zimbabwe Under-19 team.

The Board believes that things have come to a point where bad performances and bad results cannot be absorbed with a shrug of the shoulders and considered as business as usual. The stakeholders, the fans and in fact the entire Nation of Zimbabwe deserve better, much better in terms of performances and results from their National cricket teams.

The ZC Board has not taken these decisions lightly. It well understands the professional and personal ramifications that this will have on the impacted staff and can appreciate and sympathise with their disappointments. The Board also realises that the impacted staff all worked hard and tried to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

However, the Board also realises that their best was not good enough. Certain important decisions taken by senior technical staff do, in the Board’s opinion, call into question the judgment and ability of the concerned staff to make such crucial decisions. This has resulted in a collective loss of confidence in the technical teams.

The National team’s performances in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, as well as in the Bangladesh (won one, lost three) and Afghanistan (won one, lost six) tours immediately preceding the tournament, were highly unsatisfactory. In the Qualifier, where ZC had home advantage, the team just barely scraped past Afghanistan in a match that they perhaps should have lost, tied against Scotland in a match that they perhaps should have also lost and were behind on points against Ireland at the halfway mark. And the Board finally lost patience and confidence in the Head Coach and his technical staff after questionable decisions were made in the critical must-win Super Six match against the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which ultimately sealed ZC’s fate. This was the most important match that ZC was playing in years (at home against an Associate team) and the Board believes that the planning, strategy and execution adopted for this game was beyond reasonable comprehension and, in fact, way off the mark.

As far as the ‘A’ team is concerned, the ‘A’ team and Development team suffered some disastrous results, including a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the UAE and a winless run in the Africa T20 Cup in South Africa (against provincial sides). To say that this was very disappointing is putting it very mildly.

Regarding the Under-19 team performances, despite providing the coaching staff the best ever preparation, facilities and funding over a two-year period, which included expensive tours to Namibia, South Africa, Australia and India, and arriving in New Zealand two weeks earlier than normal to train, play extra games and acclimatise, the Under-19 side performed abysmally at the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand where they finished in 11th place out of 16 teams.  And this was after the Head Coach promised management, not once but many times, at least a top-four finish at the event. Again, to say that this was very disappointing is putting it very mildly.

These are just the headline reasons, below which there are many more instances that were also tabled. The Board therefore agrees that the time has now come to put an end to this dismal chapter and start completely afresh with a clean sheet of paper. Accordingly, the entire coaching and selection panels have been asked to step down, and the entire coaching and selection structures will be reconsidered from scratch.

In taking these very difficult decisions, the Board wishes to make it very clear that it believes that, under the given circumstances, the various team players have performed to the best of their ability, and that there is no one who wants more to win matches than the playing team itself. The Board understand and appreciates the many hours, months and years of hard work on and off the field that the players have put in to get to a position where ZC should rightly be proud of their players, and their own individual performances. It also realises and appreciates the support that the players (and others) have provided ZC during a time when the ZC finances continue to be severely challenged, which in turn has impacted the ZC staff and players’ remunerations.

The Board also wishes to congratulate the players for some stirring team and individual performances and in displaying a back-to-the-wall fighting spirit that warmed the hearts of every Zimbabwean. However, the team selection, team strategy, batting positions and batting strategy, bowling changes and bowling strategy etc are all orchestrated at the leadership level, and this is where the Board believes that the leadership team fell well short of expectations. This in turn, and despite the players sincere efforts, adversely impacted results.

The fact remains that, at the end of the day, ZC did not qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and therefore matters cannot be considered as business as usual. The playing leadership collectively did not come up to the required expectations and standards of the entire Zimbabwe nation, and therefore there needs to be a change. It cannot be business as usual! It cannot!

The Board also makes it clear that any of the 13 impacted persons are free to reapply for any positions at ZC that may be available in the future. Their applications will be considered in an independent, fair and impartial manner and the outcome of all applications will be based strictly on merit.

The Board wishes to thank ZC’s loyal and exuberant fans and supporters who filled the grounds and supported the ZC team in a way that was well beyond anyone’s expectations. One of the lasting memories and images of this event is the way that the Zimbabwe public, young and old and including many schoolchildren, supported and celebrated our team’s efforts. This joyous display filled the hearts of every Zimbabwean with pride and showcased Zimbabwe to the world, as Zimbabwe truly is and as Zimbabweans truly are! This proves without a shadow of a doubt that the future of cricket in Zimbabwe is very bright. And while the Board unreservedly apologises to the people of Zimbabwe for the team’s failings, it assures them that it will take sincere actions so that ZC is able to pick itself up and make the country proud once again of its future achievements, God willing.

In this press release, the ZC Board is aiming for sincerity and transparency in its communication to its valued stakeholders, its fans and the public in general. Other releases will follow in due course and we hope that you will be patient and bear with us while we take matters forward in the best interest of ZC and of Zimbabwe