Till March of this year, Tatenda Taibu had been the convenor of selectors for Zimbabwe Cricket. But since then he along with head coach Heath Streak and skipper Graeme Cremer have been removed from their roles. In a recent chat with the CrickerSoccer, Taibu, who retired in 2012 aged only 29, discussed a range of issues: cricketers departing the country to play abroad, upcoming youngsters who excite him and others.
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer (CS): The way you were removed, it must not be a satisfactory end for you as the convener of the selection committee…
Tatenda Taibu (TT): As far as my work goes, I think it speaks for itself, just look at the results we got in six months with the academy and look at the comments that I got from the players when they heard that I had been dismissed. Almost all the players I worked with sent me messages saying that I was fair. Nothing could be more pleasing than to get admired by the team you worked for.
CS: What went wrong with the Zimbabwe cricket these days?
TT: Following the World T20 in 2016, there was an overhaul of Zimbabwe cricket wherein captain Hamilton Masakadza and coach Dav Whatmore were sacked. I wasn’t really following what was happening when I was away from the game, and the T20 World Cup in 2016 fell during that time period. The quality of domestic cricket has gone down rapidly. When I was growing up there was a scholarship program in place for players that were talented but came from poor backgrounds and I was one of them. Today we miss that kind of encouragement in the grass root level. And the Cricket Board cannot shed off their responsibility.
TT: The Cricket Board should be more practical. Unfortunately, most of the officials don’t meet the minimum criteria to be at the helm of running the game. I told some of the board members that they thought just wearing a suit and sitting in the presidential enclosure makes them special and I told them that they have no idea what it is like to produce a player that goes out there and performs at the highest level because they have never even held a bat in their lives. I knew that wouldn’t go down well, it is only normal that it wouldn’t go down well, so for me, it wasn’t really much of a surprise.
CS: What could be the way out?
TT: What Zimbabwe can do is to prepare well and make sure that there are definite plans for each game. What we have to do is devising plans accordingly.
CS: But the frequent migration of players, has it become a major area of concern?
TT: Heath Streak had expressed concerns about the abandoning of Zimbabwe cricket by Gary Ballance, Tom Curran and Sam Curran in search of more attractive opportunities in England. But the departure of players is not a problem which can be fixed at the international level because that is a High-Performance pathway problem. But yes, we have been losing a lot of players. I believe that the minister for sports in our country must look at how cricket can be brought into universities and colleges so we don’t end up losing those players. And unless we start playing better oppositions more regularly and start winning against them, it will be very difficult for our players to shine in the international level. We must have bigger dreams. There really is very little going on where talent identification and talent development are concerned. That is why I founded the Rising Stars Academy that gave young players from Zimbabwe and the opportunity to spend a few weeks in their offseason playing in England.
CS: Are you seeing any ray of hope?
TT: There are things being done already. The Sports and Recreation Commission, which every sporting board in Zimbabwe falls under has the mandate to look into cricket and I know that they are looking at cricket and I know there is a lot of information in their hands so that is a good start. I know Zimbabwe is on the agenda for the ICC as well with people going on the social media voicing their displeasure with Zimbabwe Cricket. When cricket improves the crowds will return because who doesn’t want to be associated with good. I believe with the talent we have in the country we will start to get back to where we used to be. That is what I think needs to be done.