Lack of international cricket must surely be a concern

HARARE - Administrators, coaches and players must at this moment in time be feeling a sense of frustration as the rest of the Test playing nations are currently involved in international cricket of some sorts.

The ICC Twenty20 Champions League is reaching the semifinal stage, and after the conclusion of the Champions League, various countries will be engaging each other, with the exception of Zimbabwe.

Pakistan were scheduled to tour Zimbabwe towards the end of the year, but then advised Zimbabwe Cricket that the tour would be postponed because of an ODI and Twenty20 series that will now be played against India.

This latest development must be hugely disappointing for Zimbabwe cricket and the players.

The extra income would have been more than welcome and the players would have got some much needed international game time as well.

This means Zimbabwe’s next international engagement will be another away series when they tour the West Indies in January/February next year, which also means Zimbabwe would not have played an international series for exactly one year.

It has become very clear that Zimbabwe find the going extremely tough when playing away from home as the disastrous tour to New Zealand as well as the shambolic trip to the Twenty20 World Cup would suggest.

It would have been decent of Pakistan or India to have possibly suggested a triangular series which would have made up for Pakistan ditching Zimbabwe at the last minute.

 How can a team be expected to perform and improve when they have such huge gaps between playing?

It is one thing saying that the team needs to pull up their socks when they play poor cricket over a long period of time, but when a team has lengthy periods of non-playing time, it becomes a different matter altogether.

So what are the alternatives?

There is no doubt whatsoever that coach Alan Butcher will be frantically trying to come up with another plan so that the players have some sort of form before going to the West Indies for what will be a baptism of fire against a revitalised West Indies team.

It may be a good idea to try and organise a country like Ireland to tour Zimbabwe.

Ireland have become a dangerous team with players who are growing in confidence by the day, thanks to the exposure many of the players have had playing county cricket.

Furthermore, the last three encounters against Ireland have all gone the way of Ireland, although Zimbabwe will be quick point out that the last two losses were warm-up matches and so would be of no significance.

But the truth of the matter is that the Irish have a psychological advantage over Zimbabwe which should make it a good series.

The various domestic tournaments will be good for the players as it will keep them focused and fit but sadly, domestic cricket won’t be enough to keep the players in form ahead of a busy 2013. - Dean du Plessis

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