By Mehluli Sibanda
Former Zimbabwe international cricketer Edward Rainsford has shed some light on the circumstances which made him turn down an opportunity to become a Zimbabwe Cricket board member in 2019.
Rainsford was part of those elected by delegates at a ZC annual meeting held in Victoria Falls, in June 2019.
The Tavengwa Mukuhlani-led board was, however, suspended by the Sports Commission on the basis the meeting should have not gone ahead. Rainsford was not present at the AGM and says he should have been in the resort city had his son not fallen sick, just days before the gathering.
“It was a very difficult time for Zimbabwe Cricket, where they were trying to get a substantive board in place,’’ he said.
“I was actually meant to be in Victoria Falls, my son got very ill and I could not be there.
“What transpired after that seemed like something that was done above board. The suspension came as a shock to a lot of people.’’
When he was chosen to sit on the board, Rainsford says he was in the middle of negotiations with Cricket Namibia to become their chief executive.
“At that point in time, not many people would have known that I was in the middle of an interview with Cricket Namibia, to be part of their administration, as the CEO,’’ said Rainsford.
“When the suspension happened, I also had a number of commentary obligations around the world and I thought to myself that I need to perhaps remove myself from the situation and wait for what then transpired afterwards, when everything had settled, to then re-engage Zimbabwe Cricket.’’
When the ZC board was suspended, Rainsford sent a letter, through his lawyers, to Mukuhlani, in which he stated he was declining his nomination, since nothing had been officially communicated to him.
“The way it came out was not a good look, on many people’s parts, because it came out as if I had picked a side, which I did not,’’ he said.
“I picked the Ed Rainsford side, which is my family and myself, and waited until the dust had settled, for me to be part of the organisation, or try and be part of the organisation, and make meaningful changes.
“That’s why I was engaged, in the first place.’’
Rainsford concedes his letter was heavy-handed but he did not pick any sides in the boardroom fight.
“Granted, I think my communication was heavy-handed but, then, it was obviously misconstrued by a number of people and I feel that it’s important to probably set the record straight in that I did not pick a side, I have no side as we speak,’’ he said.
“I can’t sit here and say, ooh, I agree with the suspension of the board, I did not agree with that, I agree with the suspension of Zimbabwe Cricket, I don’t agree with that because I was a player.
“The men were unable to go to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to compete in the qualifier which, if they had qualified, would see them in India for the T20 World Cup.
“They are not going to be there, a Full Member nation was unable to go and compete and be part of the qualifiers, that is such a difficult pill to swallow.
“The players suffered so much from that particular situation.
“There were conversations about malpractice but if you look at the situation now, it’s impossible to say that, with so much that Zimbabwe Cricket have been able to achieve, if it was that bad they wouldn’t have been able to extinguish the debt.
“They were never going to be able to get to a substantive point and get former players involved.’’Rainsford, an international cricket commentator, is eager to be involved with ZC once again for nothing in return.
“I am still very much available to serve Zimbabwe Cricket for free, I am not there to earn any money, whatsoever,’’ he said.
“I think it’s important that we all give back, we can’t give back and expect to take as well.’’ The Herald