Zimbabwe: Mbangwa Says He Was Selected On Merit

Former Zimbabwe fast bowler, Mpumelelo Mbangwa, says his flirtation with the national team during Chevrons’ golden era, was by merit.

Mbangwa played for Zimbabwe between 1996 and 2002 when the national team was on the rise.

He says he does not regret his brief international career and refused to be drawn into the racial tensions of the day.

The 44-year-old has since made a successful transition into the television commentary box.

Speaking on Zimpapers’ Capitalk radio show hosted by Dean Du Plessis on Tuesday night, Mbangwa admitted there were tensions surrounding player selection.

“With regards to quota, players and picking players because they were black, or because there was a need for black representation, I really don’t think that it started in earnest,” he said

“I mean, I don’t think it was a subject until probably about the year 2000 — this is from my own memory.

“And, by that, I mean (before 2000) it wasn’t spoken about and it wasn’t advanced as a necessity.

“I remember that I got into the side and, in my first Test match, I didn’t play with Heath Streak.

“He would have been in the team because he was Zimbabwe’s best bowler and, around that time, was kind of towards the end for Eddo Brandes but, when fate hit generally, my great mate Henry Olonga got into the team.

“So, there, I have named three fast bowlers who would have been Zimbabwe’s attack.

“And, so, when I got my go, I think all of those three guys were injured at that time for that tour to Pakistan.

“I remember all three of those guys unable to play. So, that’s why I got in the team, not because I was black but that I was just the next guy in line.”

He made the most of his opportunity, taking the vital wickets of Ijaz Ahmed and Wasim Akram.

But, thereafter, he struggled to maintain consistency, and his lack of pace meant that he was easy picking for international batsmen.

During his six-year stint with international cricket, he featured in 15 Tests and 29 ODIs.

He finished his career with 32 Test wickets and 11 in the ODIs.

“I remember that when that squad was selected, there were four young guys who were picked at the same time,” he said.

“Gavin Rennie, as a batsman, came on that tour, Everton Matambanadzo came on that tour as well, Gary Brent came on that tour and myself.

“So, we were the four new faces and we are the same age, and age-group, having gone through ZC schools’ cricket.

“With regards to quotas, and this and that, genuinely I don’t think so; not at that time, not in the mid-90s.

“As we then moved along, and went further forward, there were murmurs around in the system of those who were watching from the outside who would said ‘hold on, that player is not getting a go.

“I think that was around 2000, when that started. These days I take a philosophical view to it.”

He said there will always be someone who believes he should, or must, play.

“But, to me, that’s just conjecture and really a waste of time,” said Mbangwa.

“What I then do is, when I got the chance, do as well as I can, play as hard as I can and absolutely no regrets in that regard.

“Would I change it, I would have loved to play a whole more, I would have loved to get a quite lot more chances.

“But, such is the way cricket is, such is life.”

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