Cricketer Patient Charumbira is said to be a distressed man after he was reportedly threatened by people who are unhappy with his role in lobbying for tough action against Zimbabwe cricket from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
ICC recently suspended the country in protest against alleged political interference in the administration of local cricket.
Charumbira is said to be a leading critic of alleged government meddling in the management of local cricket. During an interview on CapiTalk Radio on April 12, he attacked alleged corruption and political meddling in the affairs of the Zimbabwe Cricket Council (ZCC).
Several Zimbabwe cricketers in the past have had to leave the country, with others fleeing into exile fearing persecution for speaking out against the government. Among these are fast bowler Henry Olonga, who relocated to the Australia.
Although no comment could be obtained from Charumbira himself, reliable sources said the cricketer, who currently plays for VVV Amsterdam in the Netherlands, fears returning home.
“Some cricket fans and State actors feel Charumbira is among a group of disgruntled cricketers who have painted the sport in Zimbabwe in bad light and lobbied for tougher ICC sanctions. They believe he deserves punishment,” said a source.
The ICC has withdrawn funding and barred Zimbabwe from participating at any ICC event in the world.
Zimbabwe was due to take part in a T20 World Cup qualifier scheduled for October this year but ICC chairman Shashank Manohar has poured cold water on the ambitions saying a strong statement had to be made against political interference in sports management.
He claimed that the situation with Zimbabwe cricket was a serious breach of the ICC constitution that could not be allowed to continue unchecked.
The ICC made the decision after government’s Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended the entire Zimbabwe Cricket Board and replaced it with an interim committee which critics say is illegal.
This decision to suspend Zimbabwe will be reviewed by the ICC in October 2019. The country’s test status was suspended by the ICC in June 2004 after 15 players dropped out of the squad after the then captain Heath Streak was dismissed.
They played eight test matches in 2005 after the suspension was lifted, but could then not play another test match until 2011. Zimbabwe also failed to qualify for this year's just-ended Cricket World Cup in England and Wales which was won by England in a sensational final against New Zealand.
In March this year, former Zimbabwe Cricket director Enock Ikope was given a 10-year ban from the game after being found guilty of breaching three counts of the ICC's anti-corruption code.
Charumbira is a former Zimbabwe A cricketer, who represented Zimbabwe at first class level from 2006 to 2011, and also represented the country at the Under 19s level prior to that.
He relocated to South Africa where he developed into coaching as well as playing but maintained ties and an interest in Zimbabwe Cricket.
The Masvingo-bred cricketer has gained some status as an opinion leader in the field of cricket, working as a freelance commentator for SuperSport, SandSport and Octagon.
He was recently invited to provide commentary on Zimbabwe's last home game against the United Arab Emirates.