BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
RISING Zimbabwe cricket star Tarisai Musakanda is facing a hurdle to rebuild his reputation after recently being sacked by Australian club New City for not notifying them after being convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol.
The 25-year-old top order batsman, who moved to New South Wales, Australia, three months ago, recorded a 0.098 reading, almost twice the legal limit, on December 15 before being charged and convicted of a drink driving offence.
After the incident, Musakanda, who has since returned to Zimbabwe after the episode, reportedly did not inform his club about the matter, but told the Albury Local Court in New South Wales that he had consumed the alcohol during the club’s Christmas party.
This enraged New City, who pride themselves as a family-oriented club. The club said at no stage did Musakanda inform the club he had been charged and convicted and they first knew of the matter when an article appeared on The Border Mail’s website.
“Musakanda’s behaviour is not representative of the values we hold dear at the New City Cricket Club. We as a club take the responsible service of alcohol very seriously. Musakanda was only at the club function for a relatively brief time and at no stage was he served alcohol while intoxicated. All our bar volunteers have a responsible service of alcohol qualification,” club president Chris Green said in a statement.
Green said the club was incredibly disappointed and hurt that Musakanda linked the club’s function with his drink driving offence.
“The fact that he didn’t tell us was probably one of the biggest issues, but we would have been there to support him, but the fact he said he did it at our junior Christmas party is just not true and highly damaging,” Green said.
“We have put a lot of work into our junior programme and for that to come out is just not right … it doesn’t align with our values.”
“I went and spoke to him when we terminated his contract and I asked him straight out (about his 0.098 reading) and he told me it wasn’t (done) at the club, he went elsewhere afterwards,” Green said.
Once touted as the future national team captain due to his obvious talent and work ethic, Musakanda has played one Test, 15 one-day internationals and six T20 internationals for Zimbabwe.
The drink driving offence and subsequent acrimonious departure came at a time Musakanda was New City’s highest run scorer in Cricket Albury-Wodonga Provincial competition.
He had 400 runs at an average of 57.14, with one century and three 50s. Green said they were left with no choice, but to sack Musakanda despite his good on-field performances.
“For us this year, it’s been about changing of the culture, not necessarily on-field performances, we think if we get the culture right, players will come and the on-field performances will come over the next two to three years. So when something like this happens, it’s got to be about the culture first and that’s why we have been so strong in our reaction,” he said.
Musakanda is one of the several Zimbabwean cricketers who have recently moved to Australia in search of greener pastures.
Former Zimbabwe opening batsman Solomon Mire has been based in Australia for over a decade. He played for different clubs, including a stint in the lucrative Big Bash League in late 2013.
Mire is now involved in coaching after retiring from international cricket three months ago at the age of 30.
Other Zimbabwean cricketers who have recently moved to Australia include Tinashe Panyangara, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, the Mpariwa brothers Tawanda and Tony, Tafadzwa Tsiga and Taurai Muzarabani.