Home » Sports » Reflections of a Former Cricketer [interview]

Former Zimbabwe Cricket utility batsman, Stuart Carlisle (SC), found the going tough trying to earn a living when the only noble profession he had known, the gentleman’s game, had forced him out of a premature retirement back in 2004. His passion for sports haunted him back to establish one of the most popular sports shops in the country, Absolute Sports. But his love for cricket always makes him follow the game with keen interest and maintaining contacts with his former teammates among them Grant Flower, Murray Goodwin, Craig Wishart, Douglas Marillier and Trevor Gripper. Freelance Sports journalist Grace Chirumanzu (GC) sat down with him for a heart-to-heart cricket talk this week. Excerpts:

You once got a candidly critical article about the Zimbabwe Cricket administration published last December do you think there has been a change in your opinion about the sports body since that time?

Yes I think so. Well, obviously now Alistair Campbell is now the CEO, which I think is a very positive move. I think another very positive move is Dav Whatmore to take over the coaching. He is a very experienced coach and I think a mature coach as well who is the perfect candidate for this post. There are some positives happening at the moment and you can see it in the team, the actual squad itself, there is definitely a new vibe, a new energy and it is good to see.

Talking of the team, what do you make of their performance at the World Cup so far?

I would like to say they have done relatively well but disappointingly and if they had to be honest they would be disappointed as well. But in the scheme of things and what’s been happening in the last few years, I think it’s a pretty good performance and a positive performance for the future. They’ve probably done better than what the fans or public thought they would probably do. They have been competitive again, especially on the batting side, but I think its still a bit disappointing because they had a few opportunities and could have gone through to the quarter-final stages, there is no doubt.

Do you think the positives you have talked about are Whatmore’s contribution? Could it have been worse without Dav?

Yes. I do believe he has added a different dimension and with his experience and maturity, there is no doubt he has had an impact on that team.

Do you think he has enough technical support to deliver?

I don’t think he needs too much, he has Bundu Waller as the batting coach and Andrew is an experienced coach and he has Dougie Hondo as the bowling coach, I think he is also knowledgeable and experienced. I think as long as you have your director of coaching and your main coach is Dav Whatmore who is very experienced and has taken Sri Lanka in ’96 to win the World Cup, he is a proven coach. For as long as he is happy with the team around him I think that is important.

Zimbabwe has been very good at raising our hopes when it’s fading, they make us believe we can win and when we least expect our hopes are crushed and they lose even when winning is the easiest thing to do. As someone who has played the game at that high profile stage, what can you say Zimbabwe has been lacking technically?

Yah let me give you an example, people have been complaining about the Sean Williams incident on the boundary where the Irishman supposedly touched the boundary, its all going on to piking instances like in the Pakistani match where Irfan was bowling no balls this and that, but at the end of the day if we are to be critical, we are not taking enough singles upfront, our bowling in the last ten overs we are going for 14, 15runs on average and the third element against Ireland we dropped four catches our fielding is poor, definitely not up to standard. So, we shouldn’t be going for 330 against Ireland in the first place. So it’s those three points (that needs to be worked on), fielding -we have dropped so many catches, we are not taking enough singles and we are also bowling extras. We are just not disciplined enough and I am sure Dav Whatmore will note that and get it better.

Let’s talk about Carlisle, what would make this man work for ZC and contribute to the growth of the game?

(smiling)… $1,6million a month… (laughs)… no I’m joking but what would make me work for Zimbabwe Cricket again? I am so passionate about Zimbabwe Cricket and I would like to help where I could and I am not ruling out getting involved in the game one day. I still believe they need to sort out the administration, I think we have had a blotted staff for a start and I think there are certain individuals who don’t have the game at heart. I still believe there is still a bit of a cancer in cricket and they do need to clear the cancer.

There have always said their doors are open for former players to come back and help developing the game. Are former players not the ones letting the game down by not responding to the call?

I have heard that so many times and I am so tired of hearing that, why is it that the doors open and why is it that they cant come and approach us? If they were passionate that they want to get all the former players involved, why wouldn’t they come and ask us personally? I have been around for 10 years, so I don’t know about this door opening and I know for a fact it hasn’t been opened, its been pretty closed.

I don’t know Mr Manase personally but I think he is working with Alistair well from what I hear and I think he wants to do the right thing, so I think if they want to do the right thing they will certainly approach former players. I am not saying I would accept any form of position but let’s get chatting and let’s get talking I am not just talking about me but many former players.

What is the moment in your playing days that has a special place in your heart?

I think the 1999 World Cup was a big World Cup for us and it was a turning point in Zimbabwe Cricket from a historical point of view. Getting into the Super Six was genuinely great. I think from 1998 basically to 2003 we had some good performances especially when we were in England for the Tri-series and we beat West Indies 3-0. We had great team spirit, which is something I miss a lot. The sad reality is that many of us our careers were cut short. But we had some good competition amongst ourselves and I think that was one of the biggest success stories of our era.

How different is this World Cup from when you used to play?

There is no doubt the game has changed you can’t even compare this World Cup now and when we were playing. We are talking of scores now of 350, 400, 450 and it is just incredible how the game has grown much bigger. In this World Cup it is difficult to predict who is going to win because its pretty much closer. South Africa or Australia were the powerhouse in our days, New Zealand were not as good as they are now – there are four to five teams who could win this World Cup, so it’s a lot closer.

Thank you so much for your time.

It’s a pleasure.

Source : The Herald