But that's something I write about all the time.
However, I'm glad that Zimbabwe is slowly finding its way back into the international cricket arena.
I just finished reading A Corner of A Foreign Field and in it, Ramachandra Guha, on more than one occasion, stressed that when sport and politics go together, it can tarnish the entire essence of a game. It was seen in the days of the Raj, during the quadrangular and pentagular cricket tournaments, where the players of different religions and opposing faiths would clash. They might have gotten along, but the crowds most certainly did not. It was also seen post-1947. India and Pakistan have never gotten along as neighbors in the political circuit, but the sportsmen and women have made up for it. True that there are altercations in the heat of the game, like we've seen in hockey or in cricket, but at the end of the day the players are friends off the field, or so they claim.
While there is still turmoil in Indo-Pak relationships and the cricketers are barely playing, I can say this in writing that despite everything, the fan would die to watch an Indo-Pak game. Hell, there will be a packed stadium in Siberia if they played.
Politics also came in the way of South Africa's cricket. Their policy of apartheid resulted in them getting debarred from all sporting activity for over 20 years. Great players like Barry Richards and Mike Proctor could only make a name for themselves on the county circuit, despite dominating Australia in the 1969 series, which was South Africa's last series for a while.
A similar thing happened when Robert Mugabe became president of Zimbabwe. Mugabe won the elections in 1980 and served as prime minister till 1987. After that, he decided to take law into his own hands and made himself the ruler of Zimbabwe in 1987. His rule, people say is tyranny; some have even called it reverse apartheid. Several players, particularly the Flower brothers, Heath Streak, Henry Olonga and Pommie Mbwanga, migrated to England for a better life. Flower and Olonga, during the 2003 World Cup released a statement saying,
|“||In all the circumstances, we have decided that we will each wear a black armband for the duration of the World Cup. In doing so we are mourning the death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe. In doing so we are making a silent plea to those responsible to stop the abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe. In doing so, we pray that our small action may help to restore sanity and dignity to our Nation.||”|
The duo had to escape to England and since then, the Zimbabwean side lost its focus and a lot of burden was left on the young shoulders of 19-year-old Tatendra Taibu. And credit must go to him because he captained, led by example and kept wickets. Unfortunately for him, the team had a bunch of players selected purely on the basis of the color of their skin, rather than talent. Just for the sake of minority, a couple of white cricketers would be thrown in. The result was disastrous, with the ICC finally giving up and debarring Zimbabwe from playing test cricket.
This was four years ago and thankfully for the sake of cricket, the side is slowly getting back to playing good, competitive cricket. Sure, there is no Andy Flower or Heath Streak and Mugabe is still going strong, but the players are showing that they are no longer minnows and are working hard to be better with every game they play.. India figured it out in this tour. For all you know, this could be a Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe final. And for the love of the game, that makes me very happy.