Time to change tactical approach

HARARE - The coaching staff have gone to great lengths to ensure that the conditions have been to Zimbabwe’s liking, and rightly so.

The sub-continental teams are probably the very best at preparing pitches that suit their spinners, just as Australia prepare pitches that suit their fast bowlers.

The home country has a right to do so, and Zimbabwe are simply trying to compete.

But has this approach possibly gone a bit too far? Has it backfired on them?

It is true that conditions do change ever so slightly when playing in winter, but we are, however, approaching the tail end of winter, which means that the pitches, especially the Queens Sports Club pitch will be dryer and possibly slower than normal due to no rain.

If a pitch is as dry and as slow as the ones we have been playing on, surely common sense dictates that when you win the toss, you take full advantage of the best batting conditions on offer, which now seems to be in the morning, and not in the afternoon as they would have been if this series had been played in the months of May and June.

Summer is upon us now, and because we have had no seasonal rains of yet, the pitches will be dry and will undoubtedly assist the spinners, as was the case on Tuesday. 

Prosper Utseya, John Nyumbu and Sean Williams were a handfull on the Queens pitch, which must surely have had the alarm bells ringing in the Zimbabwean change rooms. But let’s not detract from the fact that the bowling, especially the fielding, was considerably better than on Sunday.

All catches that came the way of the Zimbabweans were gratefully accepted, and the ground fielding seemed to have improved slightly as well.

So, in a nutshell, batting first may be an option should Elton Chigumbura win the toss today.

Will it change the outcome of the match? Probably not. In fact, definitely not.

But it seems as if Zimbabwe have decided to take the safe way out of losing, choosing to lose with dignity, that is to say if you can lose with dignity, instead of being humiliated trying to win.

Personally, I would rather lose by 100 runs trying to win a match, rather than losing by 61 runs, trying to bat out the 50 overs.

But, I am not a cricketer, nor a coach, which is maybe just as well.

There of course is the other side and more realistic way of looking at these losses.

Instead of casting stones and hurling abuse, which is something we all do when we are disappointed or even angry when constantly on the receiving end, we need to analyse this with
relatively open minds.

The truth is that nobody in this entire team has faced bowlers who consistently bowl at speeds of 140km per hour, because none of our bowlers are fit enough to consistently bowl at
that pace.

Not one of our bowlers have the upper body strength nor skill let alone experience to bowl back of a length like Kyle Abbott, as done throughout these One Day Internationals.

If our bowlers bowl back of a length, or even try to bounce one of the South African batters, they disappear to all corners of the ground, as Luke Jongwe will confirm.

So even though many of our senior players have played well over 100 ODI’s, few of them have been against the likes of South Africa who have an assortment of genuine pace and bounce to choose from, and who also have an array of highly talented batsmen who work at their game.

This brings us to another worrying point.

Although many of us are becoming increasingly frustrated with the senior players not delivering and stepping up to the plate, are we not drafting our younger players into the team to quickly?

Jongwe and Neville Madziva have only just graduated from the Under-19 team, and although they also put in the odd performance at franchise level, they really should still be sharpening their teeth and gaining more experience playing for the A team.

What happened to consistently scoring hundreds and getting five wicket halls before being considered for selection?

Players are scoring half centuries and taking three or four wickets in an innings on one or two occasions, and then find themselves trying to compete against the worlds number two ranked ODI team.

It is now also clear that Steven Mangongo doesn’t want Andrew Waller anywhere near the team.

Waller is currently in Harare watching these games with a heavy heart, while Mangongo’s assistant coach, who is also his assistant coach at the Mash Eagles, seems to be around the players.

Why. . . Why is there such a stench of corruption, favouritism and nepotism in this sport of ours?

Surely, we want the best people with the most experience in the crucial positions, so that the younger coaches and players can learn from the old guard?

Comments (1)

racism at zimcricket

TECEE - 21 August 2014

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