Hong Kong defeat another sad chapter

HARARE - Despite a lot of positive words spoken by senior players and the coaching staff, Zimbabwe couldn’t have got off to a worse and more embarrassing start when they went down by four wickets to... yes, you read correctly, Hong Kong, in World Twenty20 warm-up match on Wednesday.

This latest disappointment is just another sad chapter to a book which is turning into a story of tragedy with no happy ending in sight.

The first and most obvious question that comes to mind is what went so wrong that a rusty but vastly experienced team could be beaten by a part-time team such as Hong Kong?

Granted, a combination of off-field events hampered Zimbabwe's preparations, but have the team become such a poor outfit in such a short space of time that an almost unheard of team should beat a well-established team such as Zimbabwe?

Following the game via internet quite obviously makes it difficult to analyze proceedings closely.

For example, what was the pitch like? Was there one or two very dodgy umpiring decisions that could have possibly changed the outcome of the match?

We can most certainly choose to follow the path of the ostrich, and pretend that nothing is wrong as we bury our heads in the sand by asking such lame questions, or we can man up to our problem, and do something about it.

But when 90% of the team plays as poorly as the team did on Tuesday, where do you even start?

Who do you blame, or can you even blame anybody after such a woeful performance?

Sikander Raza Butt and Vusi Sibanda got starts, but were unable to convert, which meant that Elton Chigumbura had to bat with the tail and try to get Zimbabwe to a total of respectability.

Prosper Utseya tried his very best with the ball, using all his skill and experience taking 3-19 from his four overs, but it all came to nothing as the rest of the bowlers let themselves down, and paid the ultimate price.

Zimbabwe's next and final warm up match, is against Afghanistan on Friday, which could now be a daunting prospect, considering Zimbabwe's last performance, as well as the fact that Afghanistan have just enjoyed a relatively successful Asia Cup, which also included a win over Bangladesh.

Positivity is one of the keys to success, but, how does one stay focused and positive when a once respected team is continuously flogged by events both off and on the field?

On paper, Zimbabwe should be able to beat Afghanistan, as well as qualify for the actual World Cup without breaking much of a sweat, but is that not what we said when we took on Hong Kong on Tuesday?

A combination of self-belief, discipline and a will to win will be Zimbabwe's only saving grace now.

All of these ingredients do require one very important substance however, and that substance is hard work.

Judging by Tuesday's result, it would appear that a team who once prided themselves on being one of the world's fittest teams, and unquestionably the world's best fielding unit, may possibly be plummeting towards the embarrassing possibility of losing their international status, which would ultimately sound the death bell of cricket in the country.

The bright side, and there is always a bright side, is that Zimbabwe have on more than one occasion found themselves in situations similar to the one they currently find themselves in, but, have then shown true Zimbabwean courage and spirit by bouncing back.

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