What is wrong with Zim cricket?

BULAWAYO - Today's ODI against Bangladesh is a must win game for Zimbabwe should they want to still entertain any thoughts of winning the series.

But, given the lack of form and confidence shown in the first ODI on Friday, one wonders how realistic a win will be.

It is staggering and most certainly disturbing to see how the tide has changed.

Zimbabwe-Bangladesh matches used to be one sided affairs back in the early 2000's, and it was pretty hard to even draw full crowds to Harare Sports Club and Queens Sports Club.

Now, the shoe is firmly on the other foot, with Bangladesh saying that although they outplayed Zimbabwe in the first ODI, they will be careful to guard against complacency.

When one has followed Zimbabwean cricket for as long as I and so many other loyal supporters have, comments such as these are really hurtful but true.

We can no longer hide from the fact that Bangladesh have become a more superior team to Zimbabwe.

A few years ago, we desperately clung to excuses such as, ‘the conditions in Bangladesh are very different, and we are finding it hard to adjust because we hardly play international cricket’.

But, the truth of the matter is that the two teams have met on a regular basis from 2004, right up to the very present, and while Bangladesh occasionally stumble at the odd hurdle, they invariably end up being the happier team at the end of a series.

Zimbabwe got off to an absolute flyer when they recorded their biggest test win in the first Test, but, since then, it has been one major disappointment after another as the Tigers have very clearly stamped their authority on this tour.

And in truth, one wonders how Zimbabwe will find their way back into what is very rapidly becoming a one sided contest.

And so, the obvious question is why?

Why is it that a team starts off by annihilating their opponents and the following week they get blown away and become visitors on their home turf?

Is something happening in the squad that is distracting the players from their duties?

If so, it needs to be taken care of with immediate effect!

The interim coach and how he goes about his business is and always be a very dark area, regardless of which team he coaches.

You can also argue that his approach is a double edged sword.

At the end of the second day of the first Test, Mangongo had a complete melt down, even by his emotional standards, and, lambasted the bowlers after a shocking last session display.

The next morning, the bowlers took nine wickets for just 43 runs, and people were of the opinion that the ear bashing, tongue lashing approach paid off.

But, did it really pay off? Or was it not just a combination of poor shot selection and the bowlers performing as a team?

There are many cricketers of years gone by who simply would not have stood for such a tirade.

They would have got up, and walked out of the changing room.

The general feeling is that most of the squad feel that they are constantly playing for their position, and when that happens, you tend to play for yourself and not the team.

It is not deliberate; it is a normal reaction which sadly always affects the performance of the team, as well as team spirit.

The current situation is worrying, and, needs to be addressed.

If the players are uncomfortable with the presence of Mangongo, he must go.

If Mangongo is not the problem, and, if the players feel that his aggressive approach brings the best out of them, questions need to be asked, and answers need to be given.

It is time for those who matter to gather around the boardroom table, and, thrash it out, and if the right choices are not made, Zimbabwe cricket will sadly continue to decline. - Dean du Plessis

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