Have Zim taken any note?

HARARE - Before the triangular series got underway, there were mixed feelings about this tournament, mostly from the international fraternity.

What was the meaning of Australia and South Africa wasting their time and energy playing in a country which is constantly under the microscope for various reasons?

Why on earth would they want to play a team who are as inconsistent as the electricity you get when you visit that country?

In short, why, why, why would you want to go and play cricket in Zimbabwe?

What those narrow minded people seem to forget, is that Zimbabwe, our beautiful Zimbabwe does still have people with feelings and emotions who despite all the trials and tribulations continue to live and breathe.

These people have been deprived of so many things for a number from the basic commodities to freedom of speech.

The list of deprivations is actually endless.

So why not try and lend a helping hand to those who so desperately need a smile and something to cheer about?

And that is exactly what both Australia and South Africa did.

Nobody expected Zimbabwe to compete, let alone qualify for the final.

But, in their own way, Zimbabwe did give something to their fans to be happy about.

True, they do lack consistency, and whether that will ever improve, or whether cricket in Zimbabwe will ever improve and get back to the glory days of the 1990s and early 2000s is debatable.

But when two cricketing nations such as Australia and South Africa descend upon a cricket and internationally sport starved country such as Zimbabwe, they probably would have no idea of the magnitude of excitement and appreciation they would have caused by such a simple act.

Any fast bowler you approached while the series was on wanted to be the next Dale Steyn or Mitchell Johnson.

When asking a young batter who he wanted to emulated, names such as Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers Quinton de Kock, Michael Clarke and Faf du Plessis were shouted out enthusiastically.

Cricket has come a very long way in terms of population, especially amongst black population who have readily embraced their national team, regardless of the lack of progress they have shown over the last 10 years.

In fact, my early memories of going to Harare Sports Club to watch the national team in action started as soon as I finished my schooling in South Africa.

I remember sitting amongst thousands of passionate Zimbabwean supporters, and listening to the banter emanating from thousands of thirsty throats.

Some of the banter was truly funny, while some of it was utterly disgusting.

And this is the point I'm getting to.

Although Zimbabwe have never really recovered to the glory days, the fans who support them have been loyal and devoted.

Naturally there have been outbursts of anger and disappointment, but I have never heard anyone become personal with any one of the players, unlike certain people who took it upon themselves to hurl personal abuse and verbal filth at some of the players when Zimbabwe were been beaten in the 90s.

While we have been privileged enough to have seen some amazing cricket played by the two senior countries, the question that every single Zimbabwean fan has asked time and time again, is have the Zimbabwean team and coaching staff taken note of how to build an innings when batting first?

The classic example of that would be Australia's 282-7 against South Africa on Wednesday.

Phil Hughes was the back bone of the innings with a solid 85, while Mitchell Marsh provided the finishing touch with his blistering knock of 86 off just 51 balls.

Have Zimbabwe taken note of how to chase down a large total on a good batting wicket, instead of just giving up as was the case against Australia in the very first game?

South Africa was the perfect example in this case, as they chased down Australia's 327 without breaking a sweat.

You may argue that the South African batsmen are more experienced, and that would be a valid point, but these are the players who set the benchmark, and who Zimbabwe should be learning from.

Did the Zimbabwean seamers observe the way Dale Steyn went about his business in the final?

He pitched the ball up, and got four wickets in the process as he exploited the dry pitch and got the ball to reverse swing viciously.

Again the counter argument will be that Steyn is a world class bowler, and that it would be harsh and unreasonable to expect the Zimbabweans to be able to emulate him.

But if you approached the game with such an attitude, you may as well not bother pitching up to play.

When the word consistency is used, the name Faf du Plessis comes to mind, especially on this tour.

It is my opinion that du Plessis is currently the most consistent number three batsman in the world at present, and scores of 107, 126, 121 and 96 simply confirms that he is at present the world's best number three batsman.

As for the actual game, South Africa will be very happy with a fantastic all round performance.

They were professional and clinical throughout the game, and most of the tournament, say for the slight glitch when they were beaten by 62 runs by Australia, and when Zimbabwe dismissed them for 231.

Dale Steyn saved the best for last, and treated the crowd to an exhibition of quality fast bowling with figures of 4-35 from 10 overs of pace and swing.

This tournament will undoubtedly be classed as one of the few highlights in a year that has been overshadowed by a great deal of frustration, disappointments and despair.

South Africa and Australia provided the Zimbabwean public with plenty of entertainment and memories that will be cherished forever, but did Zimbabwe take note of how the two senior teams went about their business?

Was Steve Mangongo able to share ideas with the two coaches, was there any interaction between the three teams off the field?

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 8 September 2014

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