|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Yet this soon became a celebration of African rather than English cricket. Hampshire, inserted because the haze was slow to lift, amassed an impressive 290, although it might have been more. Sean Ervine (born in Harare) played the most influential innings - 104 from 93 balls. He was ably supported by Nic Pothas (born Johannesburg), who hit 68 from 99 balls.
For Warwickshire Neil Carter (born Cape Town) snatched five expensive wickets. Ian Trott (also born Cape Town) grabbed three with his gentle medium pacers while Makhaya Ntini (born Eastern Cape) was the most economical bowler. Of these only Ntini is a bona fide overseas player.
So the old Lord's showpiece was not just a celebration. It also highlighted one of the key dilemmas of English domestic cricket, the continuing influx of talented cricketers, usually from southern Africa, who are not qualified to play for England. Adopting such a policy is so tempting for clubs seeking immediate success and none are currently more ambitious than Hampshire. These players don't cost the earth and the effort and risk of nurturing hopeful youngsters through the academies can be by-passed.
Usually these men are ready-made cricketers. In the case of Ervine, who also hit a century in Hampshire's semi-final against Yorkshire, a very gifted player has been acquired. Ervine will earn far more from his escapades at Southampton and in Perth, Western Australia, than he ever could turning out for Zimbabwe, which he has done in five Tests. He'll probably enjoy himself more as well.
There is a scheme in place to stall the influx of such players via performance related fee payments to the counties. Basically, the counties are rewarded for employing cricketers - especially young ones - who are qualified to play for England. But currently the scale of these rewards is insufficient to deter counties from seeking instant success from outside.
Maybe Hampshire should be lauded for using their considerable resources so skilfully in assembling one of the most successful sides in their history. They have appeared in only one other Lord's final, 13 years ago, and this year they remain in the hunt for the Championship. But in the long term their strategy is not doing the English game many favours.
Hampshire had just enjoyed a resounding victory over Warwickshire in the Championship at the Rose Bowl and here they continued to dominate a flimsy bowling side, who were at least bolstered by the rare presence of Ashley Giles and Ian Bell.
John Crawley might have been lbw to Ntini's first ball, but curiously none of the Warwickshire side, including the bowler, seemed that interested.
The ball darted around for a while, but the bowling was often wayward. Crawley succumbed to a Carter bouncer, but soon Ervine, an uncomplicated, beefy left-hander, was penetrating the field at will, while Pothas took his time.
Ervine might have been run out when he had scored 29, but the throw of England's fielding coach, Trevor Penney, was wide of the keeper and, in any case, directed to the wrong end. Well, we can all learn from that bit of footage.
The England players were bit-part contributors in the morning. Bell bowled three inconsequential overs; Giles bowled 10 without causing much bother, though he will have enjoyed the dismissal of Kevin Pietersen. Still settling in, Pietersen pulled Trott's first ball hard, but in the air, to the leg-side boundary, where Giles dived to his right to hold a fine catch.
At one point Hampshire must have spied a total in excess of 300, but they faltered in the last 10 overs when they lost their last seven wickets for 72 runs and had to settle for a final total of 290. The penultimate ball of the innings, bowled by Carter, was struck unceremoniously into the stand at long on by Chris Tremlett - at least the England hopeful is in good touch with the bat.
The complement was soon repaid by Carter, who tormented Tremlett in his early overs. Carter's six off Tremlett ended up in the top tier of the Tavern Stand and after two overs the gangling opening bowler had yielded 20 runs.
Carter is a tricky opponent; he has a good eye, licence to swing and the ability to hit the ball to strange areas. But Tremlett was hardly convincing; there were three leg-side wides in his first over and he was straining to survive rather than imposing himself on the batsmen.
Tremlett's opening spell increased the yearning for Simon Jones to be fit for the final Test. At least it improved after Carter's departure. The left-hander rashly set off for a single to mid-on. There was a direct hit on the stumps at the bowler's end before Carter demolished all three as he completed his vain attempt to make his ground. The thrower, inevitably, was the irrepressible Ervine.
Now, at last, some sturdy English batsmanship surfaced from players at the opposite end of their careers. Nick Knight, who gives up the Warwickshire captaincy at the end of this season, was soon composed and in command.
So too was Bell, who began with a simple, breathtaking stroke - a punched back-foot drive off Andy Bichel. This pair effortlessly took the score into three figures after 18 overs. The target was within range.
Zimbabwe facing new contract row
The national cricket board has offered captain Tatenda Taibu, vice-captain Heath Streak and all-rounder Andy Blignaut renewed contracts.
But it withdrew offers made to Stuart Carlisle, Craig Wishart, Barney Rogers and Neil Ferreira.
Carlisle told AFP: "This could be just as serious for cricket here as the last dispute 18 months ago."
Carlisle said the problem arose when he told coach Kevin Curran he and Wishart did not want to play against India in order to give other players more experience.
Carlisle said this was reported by Curran to ZC general manager Osias Bvute, who "immediately withdrew my contract and those of the others".
Players' representative Clive Field did not rule out the possibility of the two forthcoming Tests against India being cancelled.
"Zimbabwe Cricket has given us 14 September as the date by which they should be able to work out on the contentious issues," he told the Press Trust of India.
British firm under fire for staging beauty pageant which 'props up Mugabe regime'
By Colin Freeman
A British company has been criticised for organising a beauty contest in famine-hit Zimbabwe to help to improve the country's poor international image.
With four million Zimbabweans facing starvation, a Nottingham-based company, Miss Tourism World, is arranging for 100 "stunning" models to strut down the catwalk in Harare.
Promotional material for the pageant describes Zimbabwe as "one of many magnificent countries to be found in Africa", but makes no mention of the famine that the United Nations fears is about to engulf the country.
The company, which hopes to televise the event to up to a billion viewers, says it will "help to amend the country's tourism profile". Critics, however, say it is bolstering Robert Mugabe's pariah regime.
"These people are simply acting as PR people for Mugabe," said Wilf Mbanga, the editor of the British-based Zimbabwean newspaper. "When Mugabe has rendered 700,000 people homeless and deliberately starved nearly five million people, it is disgusting for anybody in Britain to be helping to prop up his government."
The row comes as Zimbabwe faces expulsion proceedings from the International Monetary Fund for non-payment of almost $300 million (£163 million) in loans - a move that would deepen its economic crisis.
The Chinese government, which wields increasing influence in Zimbabwe as a key trading partner, reportedly tried to stop the expulsion last week by making an expected down payment of $120 million (£65 million).
Mr Mugabe, the country's President, is believed to have negotiated the deal on his recent visit to Beijing.
The Miss Tourism World contest will take place at the Harare International Conference Centre next February, with "over 100 stunning ambassadors from around the world to help amend the country's tourism profile".
A similar pageant was held in February. Despite an acute shortage of foreign currency, the Zimbabwean government paid Miss Tourism World $2 million (£1.1 million) to host the event. The contest escaped international attention because it took place in the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections.
UN Officials estimate that four million people urgently need relief food to survive until the next harvest, a crisis widely blamed on the government seizure of white-owned farms. The government has refused to appeal for international aid. The people's plight has been worsened by Mr Mugabe's forced slum clearances around Harare which the UN says have left up to 700,000 people homeless.
Their misery is in stark contrast to the red-carpet treatment of 85 "ambassadors" who took part in the pageant. Zimbabwe flew them in from London and put them up in first-class hotels. Mr Mugabe's wife, Grace, announced the winners alongside Miss Tourism World's president, John Singh.
The contest culminated in controversy, however, when tournament officials agreed to ban Miss Tibet from the final stages after the Chinese embassy in Harare apparently protested at her presence. Chinese diplomats also insisted that Miss Taiwan re-enter as Miss Chinese Tapei.
In a written statement, the company said: "The Miss Tourism World, world finals in February 2005 were originally contracted by the private sector in Zimbabwe. However, due to the sheer magnitude of the event, this was then taken over by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
"The Miss Tourism World Organisation is non-political and purely promotes eco-tourism working closely with the tourism departments. We also promote HIV and Aids awareness and educational awareness campaigns on tourism, wildlife and the environment."
It said tourism in Zimbabwe had risen 30 per cent as a result of the publicity generated by the contest, "hence creating much-needed employment". It also claimed that its normal fee for the event was $5 million.
Miss Tourism World's website lists as "2005 official sponsors" a number of multinational companies, including Coca-Cola, Sheraton Hotels and MoŽt & Chandon champagne. All three companies denied any connection to the event and said they would be asking why their logos appeared on the website.
When asked repeatedly to explain this, Miss Tourism World responded: "We've wasted enough time with The Sunday Telegraph."
Miss Tourism World's website also describes itself as the owner and producer of Miss Great Britain, the long-running contest which began in British seaside resorts 60 years ago.
A spokesman for Miss Great Britain said that the event had been sold to new owners in May and no longer had any connection with Miss Tourism World.
Cricket hero 'not fit for citizenship'
By David Harrison
He has taken English cricket to the brink of its greatest triumph in nearly 20 years. His parents and grandparents are British and, if England win the Ashes, he might receive a knighthood. Yet after a six-year struggle Duncan Fletcher, the England cricket coach, is still deemed unworthy of British citizenship.
Now, days before the final Ashes Test - with England 2-1 up in the series - prominent public figures, most notably from the world of cricket, have called for Mr Fletcher, 56, who was born in the former British colony Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, finally to be given a British passport. Ian Botham, the former England captain and allrounder who starred in the 1981 Ashes series, said: "Duncan Fletcher would be a great asset to the British community and should be welcomed with open arms."
Michael Atherton, another former England captain, said: "He has done a wonderful job for English cricket and I would be delighted if he were to get a British passport."
Mr Fletcher's greatest triumph as a player came when he led Zimbabwe to a 13-run win over Australia in the 1983 World Cup. He moved to Britain in 1997. Two years later he became England's first foreign coach when he succeeded David Lloyd.
The Home Office declined to say why Mr Fletcher, who spends time out of the country on tour, had not been granted citizenship. A spokesman for the England and Wales Cricket Board said: "The board supports his case and is surprised that citizenship has not yet been granted."
|LEADER SPOOKED BY KIDMAN|
President Robert Mugabe, 81, claimed the film was made by the US intelligence agency in an attempt to discredit his country.
But the attack came two months after the film was cleared to be shown in Zimbabwe's cinemas.
Interpreter tells the story of fictional 82-year-old African leader President Edmond Zuwane, head of Matobo.
During his 23-year rule he has ruined the country, which shares the same name as a real Zimbabwean district.
He has also earned the wrath of a white former admirer, played by Nicole Kidman bent on revenge, after the murder of her family.
The film does have similarities to the plight of Zimbabwe, which has been transformed from a country which seemed to have a prosperous future to one†embroiled in crisis.
Its white landowners have been targeted for their disproportionate ownership of the country's resources.
The Zimbabwe Independent
2005 09 02
Friday, 2 September 2005
A point of no return
DIPLOMATS and observers started in earnest to predict Zimbabwe's inevitable meltdown in late 1997 after the unaffordable payout to the alleged disgruntled liberation war veterans. These "heroes" were then feeling left out of the loop of wealth creation opportunities that the chefs had by then created for themselves.
The ongoing economic implosion was exacerbated by the mission of vengeance and by the land and other looting campaigns that were launched in early 2000.
Zanu PF's philosophy is quite simply based on power acquisition, self-improvement and survival. The ruling party has so far secured and held its power base via evil methodologies so as to re-enforce its dependent patronised supporters who for their allegiance are rewarded with plunder and the assets of others. Serving the people and the nation's best interests has never really featured on the Zanu PF agenda.
As some commentators have suggested, the Zanu PF hierarchy will never comprehend that they are causative of the unfolding national disaster. This they will not realise until they themselves have no loot, food or fuel to survive on.
The likes of the International Monetary Fund, Western nations and particularly South African President Thabo Mbeki have failed to recognise that Zanu PF will never change its ways or ever surrender power. They will cling on because the alternatives that they would face are too horrendous for them to contemplate.
Zanu PF is a self-ignited incendiary. It is quite prepared to scorch the nation in its futile efforts to escape its days of accountability for a while longer.
The time is overdue for a new strategy towards Zimbabwe. The nation has been misled by its self-imposed leaders who have digressed too far over the line of good and proper governance.
Zimbabwe will inevitably implode as a result of its leadership's transgressions in pursuit of their irrevocable direction. When the point of no return is crossed, all options for restoration dissipate.