How low can we sink?

HARARE - Just weeks before welcoming the best Test team in the world, Zimbabwe hit a new low yesterday after losing to minnows Afghanistan by 35 runs in the first four-day match which ended at Country Club in Harare.

With the trailblazing South Africans — fresh from winning a historic Test series in Sri Lanka — having named their strongest side for their forthcoming tour here, it does not look good at all for a Zimbabwean side which went into the Afghanistan four-dayer disguised as the second-string Zimbabwe A.

The defeat to the second-string Asian side comes barely a week after Zimbabwe scandalously blew a 2-0 lead to draw the four-match ODI series with Afghanistan in Bulawayo.

Although Zimbabwe’s team for the first unofficial Test against Afghanistan did not feature such kingpins as Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda and Prosper Utseya, a lot of the players expected to be part of the South Africa Test did play at the Country Club as Zimbabwe prepare to host the Proteas for a one-off Test in Harare next week.

After Afghanistan kept the ODI series alive with a two-wicket win in Bulawayo last week, captain Brendan Taylor put on a brave face in an interview with the Daily News after the third ODI, insisting his side would recover to seal the series because he could not imagine his team “getting worse than that.”

“We were exceptionally poor in the field and with the ball, we can’t get much worse than that,” Taylor said.

“It’s a wake-up call, we expect to improve in the last ODI on Thursday. We are on a rotational policy. Today we rested some of our better bowlers.

They will come back on Thursday and make it tough for them,” Taylor said last week.

But after the Afghans levelled the series last Thursday, and coupled with yesterday’s defeat in the four-day game, the question arises again — just how low can we sink? 

The ignominy of losing to such sides as Afghanistan is becoming more and more common now in Zimbabwean cricket, and under the current coaching methods and management style, it is sadly here to stay from the looks of it.

There were strong warning signs before the series that something was terribly wrong in Zimbabwean cricket.

Yesterday, at Country Club, that dire forecast came to pass.

Zimbabwe came into the final day yesterday needing 54 runs with four wickets in hand, but the tail was blown away by an Afghanistan side which has clearly shown little respect, and rightly so, for this spineless Zimbabwean side.

With the calibre of the people at the helm of the game, no doubt we have not seen the end of this madness. We have to endure weeks and months, if not years, of despair. 

Gloomy days indeed for a game which at its peak had risen tremendously well to almost claim status as a truly national sport.

There will be no clean and decisive action from ZC, that I can assure you. What we can expect is more ponderous and exacerbating decisions.

MATCH SUMMARY

Afghanistan A 105 (Chatara 5-31) and 321 (Zadran 99, Chinouya 4-92) beat Zimbabwe A 226 (Vermeulen 107, Ashraf 6-35) and 165 (Jongwe 58, Fareed 5-54, Ahmadzai 5-58) by 35 runs.

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