Selection joke in Zimbabwe

Rushdie Magiet…relax, this is not about you! It is not about Mike Procter or Peter Bacela, either, both of who have been in Zimbabwe making three out of South Africa’s six-man selection panel watching events first hand.

All selection bodies receive criticism from time to time, and often very fairly, but South Africa’s has come in for less than many over the last five or six years because all but one or two places in the national team have been automatic selections.

So let’s have a look at Zimbabwe’s selection panel and see how they are performing. The problem for this country’s media is that they aren’t really allowed to criticise and even simple questions are answered with anger and defiance.

Several people were understandably curious about the exclusion of the country’s best one-day spinner, Dirk Viljoen, from the squad to face South Africa in the first one-dayer at the Queen’s Sports Club in Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe coach Carl Rackemann, who was added to the existing five-man selection panel along with captain Heath Streak two months ago to make a clumsy seven-man team, appeared not to know why Viljoen was missing.

At least, he preferred not to comment. It wasn’t difficult to find out, however.

National selection meetings in Zimbabwe do take place on a face-to-face basis. Faxes are exchanged and telephone calls made with sporadic thoughts and recommendations. A couple of selectors, apparently, felt Viljoen would not be a good selection because he had not even bowled for his club side in the Harare League last weekend.

They were not aware that Viljoen’s club had dismissed their opposition for 69 in 16 overs, well before Viljoen could even think of having a bowl.

But it’s get better.

One of the batsmen in the team which was dismissed for 69 was…guess? A national selector. Viljoen, like Rackemann and everyone else, remains tight-lipped. Any criticism at all of the selectors leads to miserable accusations of everything from arrogance to racism and can be followed by vendettas of non-selection.

So the next time you think Rushdie Magiet and his fellow selectors have made a mistake, just remember this! And remember that South Africa’s fine bunch of men have at least all played cricket!

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