Nyumbu reaping rewards of hard work

HARARE - Those of you who have been either brave or silly enough to have followed my columns in the Daily News will know that I have always, and I say again, always advocated for John Nyumbu.

Not only because of his consistency with the ball, but he also has all the attributes a captain and coach love to have in their team.

He is dedicated, hardworking, plays the game hard but very fairly, and off the field, you will not find a nicer person.

His big smile is so contagious that even my two glass eyes I have shine when he looks in my general direction.

Ok, that is probably a bit of an understatement, but he exudes and radiates charm, confidence without being cocky, and friendliness.

Nyumbu was joint highest wicket taker alongside fellow debutant Donald Tiripano this season, and the latter has also shown that his five or so years in the first-class system has paid off.

Unless something pretty traumatic happens, South Africa will more than likely go on to win this Test, but to be fair and honest, most of us knew this from the start.

But what has been pleasing in this Test is the commitment Zimbabwe have shown through the match.

Often we have seen them start off well, but then deflate after a few days in the field.

Not once have we seen heads hang or shoulders drop in despair even when an umpiring decision has gone against them.

They have stayed very focused at the task at hand, and shown a spirit and determination we haven't seen for a number of years.

In fact, if one were to be critical about yesterday's play, South Africa would and indeed should bear the brunt in my opinion.

From the start, they approached the batting with what appeared to be boredom, as if they actually didn't want to be here playing against their so-called little brothers.

This is no disrespect to the Zimbabwean bowling, none whatsoever.

But, you would expect a team like South Africa who are blessed with a number of stroke-makers to transfer pressure back onto the fielding side.

The obvious observation is that South Africa were of the opinion that time was no factor, and that they could afford to grind out the runs, wear the bowlers down, and by doing so obtain a lead of substance.

If Australia had been touring, it may have been a different situation entirely.

A few questions and concerns have been raised about the pitch and that it has had no carry for the quicker bowlers, whether this may have hampered South Africa's progress against Zimbabwe's medium pacers or not will always be debatable.

Yes, the pitch could probably have had more pace and bounce in it, because it is common knowledge that bounce is a spinner’s best friend, and the plan was clear for all to see that Zimbabwe were taking no chances by preparing a pitch that would in anyway assist South Africa's big three.

The downside of that is that batting is also affected by lack of bounce.

It becomes very difficult for both teams to get any momentum going which in turn makes Test cricket very boring for those trying to learn about and understand the longer version of the game.

Consistent bounce allows batsmen to play shots, and a quick outfield also gives the batsman full value for their shots, and one hopes that all of these concerns will be addressed in preparation of the tri-series, which also includes Australia.

But it is very hard to criticise a team when they have done everything humanly possible to stay in a Test against the world's number one ranked team.

And that is exactly what Zimbabwe have done up to now.

Donald Tiripano has once again shown steely resolve by batting at number three as night watchman.

Now it is up to the middle order to hold their own, and not collapse. Sadly, Zimbabwe have been prone to second innings collapses throughout their Test history.

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