Alistair Campbell rues running out Grant Flower
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Zimbabwe's decade of hurt

Ten years ago 15 white Zimbabwean cricketers went on strike. The game has not been the same since

Tristan Holme  |  

As the nets at the Harare Sports Club came into view and he gained his first glimpse of Zimbabwe's cricket future, Tatenda Taibu paused to survey the scene. Freshly installed, at 20, as the youngest international captain in the history of the game, Taibu was arriving from a meeting to take part in Zimbabwe's first practice session of a new era. Two days earlier, on April 16, 2004, 13 players had gone on strike after the cricket board refused to meet their demands. Many of them were senior, experienced cricketers; all of them were white. The 14-man squad practising in the nets had been announced just hours after the strike was confirmed. The majority were young and untested at international level; only one was white.

"Most of them were nervous," recalls Taibu. "Very, very nervous. And because of that, it was actually one of the best practices I've ever witnessed. All you could hear was just bat and ball. There was just a silence and such a concentration. And I thought, 'Well, maybe it has to go this way.' You know, the way things were just unfolding, it felt like it was all a joke, that it actually wasn't really happening, and that these differences would just end and then the players would come back and we would have a wider pool."

Two days later a one-day series against Sri Lanka got underway in the quiet city of Bulawayo. Zimbabwe ran their opponents close, losing by 12 runs on Duckworth-Lewis. That was as good as it got. In the third match, at the Harare Sports Club, they were bowled out for 35 - still the lowest total in ODI history. Sri Lanka swept the series 5-0, and in every match the story was the same. "Ten for 2 was always the case when I would walk in," says Taibu. "Every time I would bat well, we would lose, but we would lose by an okay margin. If I batted badly, it was a disaster. I remember sometimes I would really have sleepless nights."

Taibu and Streak in Australia in 2003. Little did they know what the next year held

Taibu and Streak in Australia in 2003. Little did they know what the next year held © Getty Images

Taibu had accepted the captaincy reluctantly to begin with, and after the third ODI he told Macsood Ebrahim, the convenor of selectors, that he was resigning. Ebrahim sweet-talked him out of it. Taibu allowed himself to be persuaded, mostly because he realised that there was nobody else who could step in, and also because he expected that the "rebels", as the media were branding them, would return.

"I thought they would come back. We started hearing that Heath Streak was going to come back. Tinashe Panyangara had been coming through nicely and for some time we'd been struggling to find another strike bowler, so I remember thinking, 'Well, with Streaky coming from the top end, Panyangara coming from this end… that's one added advantage.' That never happened. It was a dream."

The nightmare was just beginning for Taibu. Against the backdrop of the nation's descent into political and economic turmoil, with the rebel saga rumbling along, Zimbabwe's extremely green team played 34 matches in all formats over the next 17 months and won just two. All the while the board often resorted to bullying tactics and player rights were being eroded. In November 2005, Taibu began receiving threatening phone calls for standing up for those rights, forcing him and his young family into hiding. He announced his retirement from international cricket soon after, only for things to spin further out of control.

One morning his wife, Loveness, went for a run and was confronted by two men in black suits urging her to get into one of two waiting cars. A government official was in the back seat, shouting at her to get in. Loveness recognised him as one of the men who had been issuing threats to her husband. She ran.

Sprinting to a main road, she tried to stop any vehicle she could. "Cars were dodging her, thinking that she was just a person that had lost her mind," says Taibu. As the chasing cars drew closer, a taxi stopped to pick her up. The driver's eyes grew wide when he recognised who was behind him, but he put his foot on the accelerator and outran Loveness' pursuers. The Taibus left for Bangladesh soon after. Through a lengthy chain of events, a row between a group of players and their board had come to affect anyone connected with cricket in Zimbabwe.

The game has never been the same again.

To understand how race wound up at the centre of Zimbabwe cricket's perfect storm, it is worth taking a brisk walk through history. In the early 1960s, independence was being granted to colonised territories across the African continent, and Rhodesia - as Zimbabwe was then known - was eager to gain its own from Britain. The problem, however, was that Britain had a policy of "no independence before majority rule", and Rhodesia's white ruling elite were not willing to give up power. In November 1965, Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith announced a Unilateral Declaration of Independence that brought isolation and sanctions from the western world. More damagingly, within a year it brought a civil war as two black nationalist movements took up arms.

"I remember thinking, 'With Streaky coming from the top end, Panyangara coming from this end...' That never happened" Tatenda Taibu

Thirteen years of guerrilla warfare followed, during which time Rhodesia competed in South Africa's Currie Cup. Cricket remained almost exclusively white, but that didn't mean black cricketers went unrecognised - in 1970, Garry Sobers received a standing ovation when he turned out in a double-wicket competition. On returning to the West Indies, Sobers apologised for playing in what Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley described as "Ian Smith's rebel, racist nation", but in some ways Sobers' visit revealed the mindset of white cricket in Rhodesia: they didn't mind playing with or against black cricketers, they just didn't think the blacks were particularly interested, and so, little effort was made to spread the game.

This began to change after 1980, when the country's first fully inclusive elections brought Robert Mugabe to power. The Zimbabwe Cricket Union cut ties with apartheid South Africa, became a member of the ICC, and slowly began to use its limited funds to introduce the game into black township schools. The only real income it received prior to Test status in 1992 was when its team qualified for World Cups - itself a long and expensive exercise, usually paid for through fundraising. After the 1983 World Cup, wicketkeeper-batsman Dave Houghton became the only full-time employee of the ZCU, which tasked him with setting up development programmes.

Protesters call attention to the political situation in Zimbabwe during the team's Test in Durham in 2003

Protesters call attention to the political situation in Zimbabwe during the team's Test in Durham in 2003 © AFP

As Zimbabwe cricket gained momentum through the 1980s, so did the development drive. Sponsors constructed concrete pitches in schools. A member of England's coaching programme was brought out to run courses and develop black coaches in the community. And in the mid-1990s a scholarship programme took the most talented youngsters to more privileged schools with better cricket facilities. Taibu was one of its first beneficiaries, along with Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri and Vusi Sibanda.

In the meantime, black players from wealthier backgrounds were coming through the private schools. Fast bowler Ethan Dube toured England in 1990 and would have become Zimbabwe's first black representative but for injury. In 1995, Henry Olonga played in the country's first Test win. Mpumelelo Mbangwa and Trevor Madondo debuted soon after. Yet the national team remained almost exclusively white until the end of the millennium. Which is when the country began to change.


"I remember the breaking news. I remember being in a hotel in the West Indies - we were in Grenada - and I remember vividly waking up and someone phoning me and saying that I'd better see the news. A farmer had been killed north of Bulawayo, and we're directly north, so I thought, 'Geez.' I remember getting on the phone quickly, and I got through to my folks and it was a bit of a relief. So I said, 'Who's been killed? Someone's been killed in our area.' They hadn't actually heard anything yet, but it was Martin Olds. Obviously it was quite worrying, as to how things would evolve and what would happen."

Within days, Heath Streak was back home dealing with his family's new reality, as white farmers in a shifting landscape over which they suddenly had very little control. It was April 2000 and Olds had become the second white farmer to be violently killed in a week in Zimbabwe's land invasions. He woke early one morning to find more than 100 squatters converging on his homestead. *According to a report in the Guardian, a three-hour shootout ensued before Molotov cocktails were lobbed into his house and it began to burn. When the heat became too intense, the 42-year-old stumbled outside, where he was severely beaten and then shot twice in the face from close range.

Ozias Bvute headed the Integration Task Force, which set ambitious racial "goals" for everything: the team, the umpires, the crowds at games

The news travelled through the farming community like wildfire. In effect, the injustices of the past century were being revenged in short order as veterans of the country's civil war and younger members of the ruling party responded to Mugabe's call to take back the land.

After arriving in the late 19th century, whites had claimed the vast majority of the country's most arable land, pushing the Shona and Ndebele out into the drier, less fertile parts of the country. This imbalance had gone uncorrected when independence arrived, and attempts to address it in the two decades that followed had been slow. Britain had initially committed to funding land resettlement projects, but in 1997 that changed when Tony Blair's Labour Party came to power and support was withdrawn.

When, in February 2000, a new constitution - that would have allowed the government to acquire land compulsorily without compensation - was blocked by a referendum, there was only one way that Mugabe could placate the war veterans' demand for land: simply tell them to invade it. So began Zimbabwe's descent into lawlessness, fuelled by a racial rhetoric that ripped through the harmonious feeling of the 1990s.

The kids are all white: Zimbabwe cricket enjoyed happier times in the '90s. Here, the players celebrate thrashing England 3-0 at home in 1997

The kids are all white: Zimbabwe cricket enjoyed happier times in the '90s. Here, the players celebrate thrashing England 3-0 at home in 1997 © Getty Images

Streak didn't have long to take stock of things on his family's cattle and game ranch, where he had grown up speaking Ndebele and playing cricket with the farm labourers and their sons. He had another tour to go on. Although he delayed his departure by a few days, within two weeks of Olds' murder he was touching down in England, leaving behind a country in crisis.

The farm invasions would be a topic of hot debate among the Zimbabwean squad over the next two months and one of deep concern for farmers such as Streak and Guy Whittall. Little did they know that within a few years cricket would experience its own radical change.

March 11, 2004 was a pivotal day in Zimbabwe's cricket history. That afternoon, with preparations for a one-day international against Bangladesh completed, Streak was summoned to the Zimbabwe Cricket Union's offices by managing director Vince Hogg. The issue was the racial composition of the team, which included just two players of colour. It had been selected by Macsood Ebrahim and his panel, which comprised coach Geoff Marsh, Ali Shah and Stephen Mangongo, and had been signed off by ZCU vice-chairman Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, Macsood's father.

Streak and Marsh found Hogg with Shah and "Max" Ebrahim when they arrived, but the man who had called the meeting, Ozias Bvute, was not there. Hogg dialled him up on speakerphone, and Bvute's message was clear: the team was not representative enough and it would be re-selected.

Streak recalls: "I said, 'Well, this side's been selected by Ali Shah and Max Ebrahim and Stephen, so how can you say it's racist: there are no whites involved. And Geoff Marsh, who's advising them, is an Australian. Do you know the ramifications of doing this? Because the team's been announced and I'm not going to go and tell a guy he's been dropped and not tell him why.'"

Bvute eventually arrived along with Mashonaland Cricket Association chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani and general manager Givemore Makoni. Things became heated. Makoni threatened to dig up the pitch at the Harare Sports Club if the team was not changed. In an effort to find some middle ground, Max Ebrahim suggested Andy Blignaut and Mark Vermeulen be left out, given that they had recently recovered from injuries. Streak would not countenance the idea. The meeting dragged on for more than four hours before it was adjourned without a resolution.

Shortly after, Justice Ebrahim arrived and spoke with the Mashonaland contingent. It was agreed that the match would go ahead without changes to the team or sabotage to the venue, but that more black players would be selected in future.

One morning Taibu's wife, Loveness, went for a run and was confronted by men in black suits urging her to get into a waiting car

Streak was Man of the Match in Zimbabwe's victory the next day, but the meeting was the last straw. The issue of race in selection had been around since 2001, when the ZCU had conducted a racism survey followed by an open forum on the subject. "I'd never seen or heard of Ozias before that," says Streak, "and I'll never forget him standing up and saying: 'The team we've got is a losing team anyway, and it's just a white team, so we might as well just pick a team that's more reflective of the demographics of this country.'

"In principle I didn't think it was a bad thing, and I think to be honest a lot of the black guys felt that it was a good thing, but it had to be realistic and structured."

While the rebel saga would come to be seen in terms of black and white, the seeds had effectively been sown in the frustrations of the Indian community, who felt players such as Ujesh Ranchod, Hitesh Hira and Ebrahim Essop-Adam had not been given a fair crack in the 1990s. The two Ebrahims therefore set out to break the white monopoly and enlisted Bvute to head an Integration Task Force. The task force set ambitious "goals" for the racial make-up of everything from the national team to the umpires and even the crowds at games.

Timeline of a fallout

Seven months in 2004 that changed the course of Zimbabwean cricket

March 11 In the middle of a series, Ozias Bvute, the ZCU's director of integration, calls for the Zimbabwe ODI team to be re-selected with more players of colour included. His demands are not met; the meeting ends in stalemate.

March 24 Heath Streak, the captain, writes a letter to the ZCU's managing director, Vince Hogg, listing four key demands, including an end to unofficial quotas. Threatens to resign if they are not met.

March 30 An emergency meeting attended by a handful of players and ZCU representatives ends in acrimony.

April 2 Streak calls Hogg to reiterate his position. Hogg relays the conversation to the ZCU board. Twenty-year-old Tatenda Taibu is appointed captain.

April 8 Eleven contracted players - all white - threaten to resign if Streak is not reinstated as captain.

April 16 Thirteen white players go on strike. The ZCU names a 14-man squad for a one-day series against Sri Lanka. Uncapped 18-year-old Brendan Taylor is the only white member; only eight have international experience.

April 18 Zimbabwe's new squad trains for the first time at Harare Sports Club; two more white players join the "rebel" camp.

April 25 In the third ODI, in Harare, Zimbabwe are bowled out for 35 - the lowest score in ODI history. Sri Lanka chase the target in 9.2 overs.

May 5 The rebels write a letter to the ZCU, rejecting the board's offer of mediation and call for binding arbitration.

May 10 The ZCU fires the 15 rebel players.

May 17 Zimbabwe are beaten by massive margins in both Test matches by Sri Lanka: an innings, and over 200 runs.

July-August The rebels tour England for three weeks, under the banner of the "Red Lions", in a bid to keep playing and to raise money for two charities - the Cricketers' Trust and the Zimbabwe Pensioners' Trust.

September 28 An ICC hearing into allegations of racism by the ZCU begins in Harare. It is declared closed the next day after an impasse - the players ask for the proceedings to be held in camera; the board refuses. Both sides give written submissions.

October 17 The ICC panel releases its findings, indicating that it found no evidence of racism by the ZCU.

A supremely slick operator with banking interests in Zimbabwe and Namibia, Bvute had used his task-force post to manoeuvre his way into the ZCU board of directors by the time he and Streak went head to head in that March 2004 meeting. Sharp and driven, he would quickly supersede those in higher positions as the saga played out.

Streak says his main issue was around clarity and transparency. "I said that you've got to actually tell people if there's a quota system in place. Because the young white guys are going to worry about whether they're doing the right thing by staying. At least if you do a quota system and you say that we have to have three or four players of colour, then they know that they're fighting for seven positions or whatever it is."

Concerned, Streak resolved to take action. Ten days after the series against Bangladesh was won, he wrote a letter to Hogg demanding an end to unofficial quotas, more stringent qualification standards for the role of selector, the setting up of a players' association, with 50% of the costs to be met by the ZCU, and the restarting of National League cricket. Otherwise, Streak wrote, he would resign as captain.

Although Hogg could sympathise with Streak, who was a family friend, and with some of the players' gripes, he was beholden to the board. When he put the letter to them, it kickstarted a series of uncomfortable meetings that often descended into shouting matches. With more than a decade of experience in the board's top post, chairman Peter Chingoka should theoretically have had the biggest say. Instead, he found himself being shouted down by Bvute and Max Ebrahim, who insisted that the players should not be allowed to dictate terms.

"Ozias was much more radical, wanting change quicker, and didn't mind hurting cricket," says Hogg. "I think he had pressure coming from other people that I didn't know about. They had meetings away from cricket and he used to come with an agenda to meetings - I could see that. So he was just trying to push, and I don't think he cared about cricket that much. Not as much as Peter, who came from a cricket background."

When a meeting on March 30 with Streak, Taibu, Hogg, Bvute and others turned sour, it became clear that neither side was going to back down. Three days later Streak phoned Hogg to reiterate his position. Although they later disagreed over whether Streak had resigned during the conversation, it did not really matter. The ultimatum in his original letter still stood, and after another acrimonious board meeting - at which Chingoka's plea to discuss Streak's concerns came up against another barrage from Bvute and Max Ebrahim - the ZCU announced that it had accepted Streak's resignation. It appointed Taibu captain.

Streak, who had been fronting the efforts against the board, kept the other white players informed and had their full support. On April 8, 11 contracted players threatened to resign if Streak was not reinstated, telling the media that they did not want to play under Taibu because of his age and inexperience.

The threats carried a deadline of 4pm on April 14 and brought another meeting between ZCU officials and a contingent of players, who were supported by their lawyer Chris Venturas. It was increasingly clear that neither side would relent, and if anything, those representing the ZCU were becoming more radical, accusing the players of racism in another bout of screaming.

The day after the deadline, 13 players with 262 Test caps between them went on strike: Streak, Grant Flower, Blignaut, Travis Friend, Doug Marillier, Ray Price, Stuart Carlisle, Gary Brent, Barney Rogers, Craig Wishart, Trevor Gripper, Neil Ferreira and Sean Ervine. They were joined within days by Charles Coventry and Gavin Ewing. In the heat of the moment, the striking cricketers failed to anticipate two obvious problems: one was that such an extreme measure left them with no bargaining power; the other was that they were all white and the cricket issues were forgotten as the narrative became all about race.

© Getty Images

"I was vice-captain and I was left in the dark," says Taibu. "Then Grant Flower ended up coming to me and saying, 'Listen we have left you in the dark on this one because if anything goes wrong for us, it's fine because we can go elsewhere. But this is your home, you really haven't been established, so we thought it would be unfair to bring you in. But as it stands I don't think we are winning, so we really need your support.' This is like two days before they walked away. I said they should give me a day to think about it. I tried to see how that could work. I couldn't see it."

Douglas Hondo, Mluleki Nkala and Dion Ebrahim were reportedly considering the idea of joining the rebels, but they denied the possibility and confirmed they would play against Sri Lanka if selected. All three, along with six uncapped players, were included in the 14-man squad that was announced the afternoon that the rebels refused to turn up for training. Zimbabwe cricket was moving along swiftly.

As Taibu and his team-mates slunk to defeat after defeat, the stand-off between the rebels and the board reverberated in the background before slowly fading out. Talk of arbitration amounted to nothing when the players insisted that it should be binding and the ZCU refused. On May 10 the 15 players were sacked. Zimbabwean law stated that parties had 21 days to remedy breaches of contract, and that period had expired.

With Australia due in Zimbabwe next, the spectre of Test cricket's worst ever mismatch prompted ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed to fly in. When Speed arrived in Harare, Hogg informed him that - at Bvute's instigation - the board had decided not to meet with him, and had even considered calling for his deportation. A seething Speed unleashed a tirade in Hogg's presence, and later met with some of the rebels in the quiet surrounds of the Harare Botanical Gardens. There wasn't much he could promise them.

"I said, you've got to tell people if there's a quota. At least the young white players will know they're fighting for seven positions or whatever" Heath Streak

When Speed did gain an audience with Chingoka and told him that he would circulate a resolution for the forthcoming matches to be denied Test status, Chingoka cunningly cut a deal with Cricket Australia chairman Bob Merriman to can the Tests and play only ODIs. The move delayed conversations over Zimbabwe's Test status and when they did arise at an ICC board meeting in June, it was agreed that Tests against England slotted for November would be deferred.

While ICC president Ehsan Mani's suggestion that the ICC set up an inquiry into allegations of racism by the ZCU came to fruition, it effectively went the same way as the mooted arbitration. The hearings began in a Harare hotel at the end of September, and were presided over by Goolam Vahanvati, India's solicitor-general, and Steven Majiedt, a South African High Court judge. It was a stalemate once more. Venturas asked that his clients be allowed to testify in camera, saying they did not want to give evidence in front of Bvute, Justice Ebrahim and Mukuhlani for fear of victimisation; Norman Arendse, the ZCU's lawyer, who would later become president of Cricket South Africa, refused.

"If we accede to an exclusion of the three ZCU Directors, the ZCU will withdraw from these proceedings," Vahanvati and Majiedt wrote in their report. "If, on the other hand, we decline the request for their exclusion, the players will withdraw."

One that got away: Sean Ervine was among those who moved to other countries after 2004 - in his case, to Australia

One that got away: Sean Ervine was among those who moved to other countries after 2004 - in his case, to Australia © AFP

The matter ended there. Most of the rebels drifted away to seek employment in other countries. Some, such as Streak and Carlisle, returned for a brief stint in the national team the following year but found that everything had changed. Brent and Price hung in a little longer. For the most part, a generation of cricketers was lost and never recovered.

Ten years have passed, but the ghosts of 2004 still linger in Zimbabwe. Brendan Taylor, Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya all made their debuts in that series against Sri Lanka; Sibanda and Masakadza, who began earlier, have also been ever present in the side since then. The five have accumulated more than 700 ODI caps, yet only Taylor averages more than 30.

In July this year, Zimbabwe Cricket appointed Stephen Mangongo - a product of the coaching development programme from the 1990s - the national coach, and he quickly put his senior players on notice. They had been failing for too long, he said, and it was time for other players to be given opportunities. Taylor was dropped for an ODI against South Africa in August, Sibanda was at one stage told he would never play under Mangongo again, and the coach wanted to drop Masakadza for the same game as Taylor but was talked out of it by another selector.

It is hardly the players' fault that they have struggled. Cricket is a game learnt as much in the dressing room as it is out on the pitch. Instead of coming into a side with seniors who could impart knowledge and experience, those five players grew up in defeat with nobody to learn from. By the end of the triangular series against South Africa and Australia this year, the five were back in the side. The reality is that Zimbabwe simply does not have a production line of players. The robust system cultivated in the 1990s has long since collapsed, grassroots development is almost non-existent, and franchise cricket is at best on a par with South Africa's amateur competition.

The robust system cultivated in the 1990s has collapsed, and franchise cricket is on par with South Africa's amateur competition

This is largely because while the colour of Zimbabwe's cricketers changed as a result of the rebel saga, the colour of its bank balance altered as well. Between June 2004, when Hogg quit as managing director, and the end of 2005, it went from $10m in the black to a sickly pale shade of the spectrum. Money that usually lasted the majority of a World Cup cycle was gone halfway through that period.

Since then, ZC has borrowed millions of dollars from MetBank, in which Bvute holds significant shares. ZC officials say that without those loans cricket would not have been able to continue. Others ask who gains the most from the relationship, and there have certainly been instances where the bank's interests have been put first - most notably in 2012 when a $6m loan from the ICC was not used to retire a portion of ZC's high-interest debt as it was designed to, and was instead deposited in a non-interest-bearing account with MetBank. More than one stakeholder in Zimbabwean cricket has suggested that the rebel saga served a key purpose for those with eyes on the guaranteed foreign currency that ZC brings in: getting rid of any players who would stand in their way.

Man in the middle: at times Peter Chingoka (centre) appeared powerless in the tussle between the players and Ozias Bvute

Man in the middle: at times Peter Chingoka (centre) appeared powerless in the tussle between the players and Ozias Bvute © Getty Images

"One can look at it that way," says Taibu. "Another can come along and say these people didn't have any cricketing background so they didn't know how things worked. Which cannot be true because of all these other stories that are coming up now - that we are $20m in the red. If someone has come in and doesn't know how to run things, and they find, okay, they've made a blunder here and start trying to run it properly, then how does [the debt] accumulate like that?"

At best, ZC has been guilty of gross mismanagement since Bvute took over from Hogg. At worst, the organisation has been used for personal enrichment.

It took nine years for the players to learn how to stand up for themselves, but in 2013 they finally formed a union - which Bvute would not countenance before his official departure from ZC in 2012, and which he continues to try and sabotage in his vague consultancy role with ZC. In May this year, according to two reliable sources, he summoned a group of senior players to offer incentives if they got rid of Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers' Association chief executive Eliah Zvimba, who has been a thorn in ZC's side.

Despite the ZPCA's efforts, cricket in Zimbabwe continues to reflect the state of the nation, in that it is run by a small elite for their own personal gain to the detriment of the wider public. Until that changes, the downward trajectory will continue. Players who are good enough to ply their trade elsewhere will leave - like Gary Ballance did. Those without a choice will remain, but it is difficult to see their games improving when all the coaches with proper cricket experience or valid qualifications have left or are being sidelined.

The healthy grass-roots development of cricket in Zimbabwe in the '90s is now a memory

The healthy grass-roots development of cricket in Zimbabwe in the '90s is now a memory © Getty Images

Whatever happens going forward, the game will not die. Bvute's aggressive mission to change cricket's racial make-up may have had irreversible effects on the standard of cricket in Zimbabwe, but it was successful. In August, as Zimbabwe recorded their first one-day victory over Australia in 31 years, an almost entirely black crowd packed the Harare Sports Club and sang their team to victory on a golden evening. It was a sight worth celebrating with as much gusto as Zimbabwe's success on the field that day.

Ten years on, transformation is therefore complete, but at a cost. The question that will forever dog Zimbabwe cricket is: with genuine, selfless management, couldn't Taibu's dream have become a reality?

11:18:17 GMT, 14 January 2015: Added attribution to the Guardian

Tristan Holme is a freelance cricket writer who covers the game in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He is working on a book about Zimbabwe cricket