Gillespie blasts Zimbabwe Cricket

HARARE – Former Australia fast bowler, Jason Gillespie labelled Zimbabwe
Cricket (ZC) as liars and said the game in the country is in ‘shambles’ owing
to poor administration.

In an wide ranging interview with The Guardian yesterday, Gillespie, who spent two seasons in
Zimbabwe coaching franchise side the Mid-West Rhinos, criticised the way ZC has
run down the game.

Gillespie’s comments came a day after ZC had moved in to
stop a potential disaster when they offered five-month long winter contracts to
a group of 11 players, who had threatened to boycott the upcoming home series
against Bangladesh.

During the four-day impasse with the non-contracted players,
Zimbabwe interim coach Steve Mangongo had been left with only a skeleton squad
of 10 contracted players.

“When we moved to Zim we took three small kids. I’ve
got five kids [including an older daughter from a previous relationship and a
new-born girl] but then me and Anna went with a four-year-old, a two-year-old
and a nine-week-old son. Anna is an absolute trooper and I thoroughly enjoyed
my time there,” Gillespie told the British paper yesterday.

“But Zimbabwean cricket is a shambles and the players
are suffering. Unless I dipped into my own pocket we wouldn’t have cricket
balls or practice equipment. You have to help them out because Zimbabwe Cricket
doesn’t give the money they promise. It’s so frustrating.

“We had wonderful people in Kwekwe, where I coached Mid-West
Rhinos, but the administrators’ incompetence was staggering. I learnt a lot
because our players, against so many odds, worked their butts off.

“We’d lived our first season in Harare which was great.
I commuted the 200 kilometres to Kwekwe, but I moved down there for my second
season. I wanted to spend more time with my second XI players.

“But Zimbabwe Cricket axed the second XI competition. All
these incredibly stupid decisions kept coming – cutting allowances, cancelling
games. They were going to cancel a round of club matches because they wouldn’t
buy balls which cost a few hundred dollars. Anna and me have since learnt not
to sweat the small stuff.”

Gillespie also disparaged the way Australia cricket
authorities handled the ‘homework’ saga that erupted during their tour of India
last month when four players were suspended for not handing in an assignment.

“What happens now if someone wears the wrong shirt? Do
they get left out? If they’re late for the bus do they get left out? They’ve
dropped four players for not filling in a feedback sheet – what if that happens
again? Does the next person, leading into the Ashes, also get dropped? Those
questions need to be asked,” Gillespie said.

“I played a lot with Watto (Shane Watson), and against
him,” Gillespie says. “He likes to do things his way and even takes
his own physio on tour. But we can’t gloss over the fact that, as a Test
cricketer, he hasn’t been doing the job.

“He’s decided not to bowl and concentrate on his batting but
the last couple of years he hasn’t been performing. Is he in Australia’s best
XI? If he is, then support him to the hilt. If not, make the call and move on.
People are a little clouded with selection at Cricket Australia.”

Gillespie, who is the first the first cricketer of
Aboriginal descent to play for Australia, is now coaching county side Yorkshire
in England.

The 37-year-old took 259 wickets in 71 Tests (at an average
of 26.13) making him Australia’s sixth-highest wicket-taker and giving him the
14th best bowling average for Australian bowlers who have taken more than a
hundred wickets.

Gillespie arrived in Zimbabwe in November 2010 after he was
appointed coach of the Kwekwe-based franchise.

He spent two seasons with the Mid-West Rhinos and he is
credited with the development of seamer Richard Muzhange.

Gillespie was offered the Yorkshire job in November 2011 and
helped the Yorkshire, who are English domestic cricket most successful club,
win promotion from the second division last season.

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