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India tour of Zimbabwe: Prosper Utseya grabs eyeballs in race row

In a rant of over 10,000 words, Utseya had, in short, accused Alistair Campbell of racism.

Written by Aditya Iyer | Harare |
Updated: July 20, 2015 9:53:03 am
UtseyaAP-L Utseya had been reported for suspect action last year. (Source: File)

All eyes at the Harare Sports Club were on Prosper Utseya, as he stood at the top of his bowling mark to kickstart India’s innings. Those eyes had very little to do with the fact that Utseya, an off-spinner, was opening the bowling. Or that the ICC had not allowed him to bowl off-spin in the first place.

Those eyes were on Utseya thanks to his controversial letter that was made public by ESPNCricinfo late last night.

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In a rant of over 10,000 words (a novella’s length), Utseya had, in short, accused Alistair Campbell, a former Zimbabwe opener and current managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket, of racism.

“Through you Mr. Chairman (Wilson Manase) I wish to share my frustrations as I believe I am a victim of racism and have come to a point where I feel I have been quiet for too long whilst a lot has been happening,” begins the letter, before it goes on to accuse Campbell of not selecting him in a single playing eleven at the 2015 World Cup due to a ‘personal agenda’.

“Their aim was simply to put a white captain in B Taylor simply because they believe a white coach cannot work with a black captain and the change from Utseya to B Taylor would not look good politically hence the Elton (Chigumbura) route,” Utseya wrote. “Elton was not given a chance to prove himself and was quickly dropped from the captaincy.”

It upset Taylor, no longer with Zimbabwe after the World Cup, all the way in Nottingham. The former captain tweeted: “I THINK PROSPER UTSEYA NEEDS TO HAVE A LONG HARD LOOK IN THE MIRROR.”

The only ones looking at Utseya on Sunday, though, were us, the spectators. And Campbell, from above the press box.

He gave nothing away as Utseya jogged in to bowl, but plenty of Utseya’s actions on the field did.

At the fall of Sanju Samson’s wicket, the entire team, led by Sikandar Raza, trotted towards the catcher Malcolm Waller at long-on. But Utseya stayed put at fine-leg. It made for a stark picture. Ten men on one side of the field. One on the other.

When asked about it in the press conference, Raza (a brown man in a white-and-black team) looked to play it down. “To be completely honest,” he said, “if there was any news that was bothering players I think we wouldn’t have won the game.”

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