On the Front Foot: Zimbabwe's diplomatic missionaries happy to stay in background

Much to general surprise – not to mention irritation in some quarters – Zimbabwe have been in this country on a charm offensive. Ozias Bvute, managing director, and Alistair Campbell, chairman of selectors, held a series of private meetings to put the case that cricket in Zimbabwe is no longer the basket case that many perceived it to be.

Bvute, hitherto held up as the embodiment of all that is wrong, made himself available for any questions and happily repudiated any and all charges of bully-boy tactics. It is significant that Campbell, a ferocious critic of Zimbabwe Cricket before his return, supported him fully. They are clearly friends. Their purpose was to try to set the record straight. England have not played Zimbabwe in a bilateral match for six years, and there is no imminent likelihood of them doing so given the Coalition's hard-line stance. MCC last week cancelled a fact-finding mission on Government advice; Scotland have withdrawn from a tour. Bvute sought to put distance between cricket and government, a perceived link which has been a constant bugbear. Peter Chingoka, chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket, is still not welcome in the UK (or the EU), the reason that this year's ICC annual gathering had to be moved from London to Singapore. But 10 English professionals are taking part in the country's revitalised first-class competition this winter and they return to Test cricket next May after a self-imposed break of five years. The England and Wales Cricket Board were concerned Bvute's visit would divert attention from the NatWest Series (it might have deflected focus from corruption). Bvute, determined to be in it for the long haul, said: "Many inaccuracies and rumours have been written about me for many years, and continually perpetuated. I wanted to put my side of the story across. I fully understood the ECB's view that I might pose a 'distraction' if I was seen in the ground or held any 'formal' talks, so I was very happy to be a low-key, informal visitor."



Fletcher's no great shakes

An Old England backroom boys' reunion was staged in the pub next to Sophia Gardens, Y Mochyn Du, last week. There, having a beer before the T20 international were Dean Conway, former team physiotherapist, Mark Garraway, ex-analyst, and their coach Duncan Fletcher. Conway and Garraway were in splendid mood, Fletcher is still not shaking the hands of those who criticised him towards the end of his tenure. When he was batting consultant to South Africa last winter someone close to the team said: "He knows his stuff, Duncan, but you wouldn't want him round all the time or people would get depressed."



Hadlee's hardly recognised

A big story is brewing in New Zealand, if that is not a contradiction in terms. It is 25 years since Sir Richard Hadlee took 15 for 123 (including a first-innings 9 for 52) in Brisbane to propel the Kiwis to their first Test win in Australia. But not only is the great occasion not being marked at this year's New Zealand awards ceremony next week, Sir Richard has not been invited.



Plenty of Twenty20s

When England next play a Twenty20 international it will be against Australia in January. If England win they will have set a world record for eight consecutive T20 wins. Still, they might not swap the Ashes for it.



s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence