Zim selectors face headaches

HARARE - Zimbabwe A are currently doing battle in Bangladesh, and as expected, it has been one way traffic with the Bangladeshi spinners dictating terms.

The worrying aspect is that up to now, only three players have shown any sort of backbone in what has been an absolute nightmare tour for our second-string team.

Vusi Sibanda and Regis Chakabva posted half-centuries in the first innings of the first unofficial Test, while young Wellington Masakadza’s eight wickets in the match would have more than likely secured a spot in the Test team as a second spinner, which is an absolute necessity when touring Bangladesh.

Sibanda sprung a pleasant surprise when he bagged five wickets in the first innings, but these individual performances mean very little, if anything, when looking ahead to the future and picking Test teams.

In fact, it is the age old curse that has plagued the sport in this country for many a year, and judging by the one-sided results, and seems as if this curse will be going nowhere anytime soon.

Admittedly, Bangladesh is one of the hardest countries to tour, the stifling heat and humidity saps the energy from any player, the stench of raw sewage hangs over you like a heavy cloak, but at the end of it all, the team are there to play cricket.

The fact that only two batsmen passed 50 and that left arm spinners still have such a hold on one team leaves you wondering what the coaching staff did leading up to this tour.

Surely they would have done some sort of homework, and would have, or at least should have been aware that Bangladesh would have enough left arm spinners in their armoury to make an entire team.

Although senior players such as Sibanda, Chakabva have passed 50s, you would expect at least one of them to go on to a score of substance.

Mark Vermeulen has also been there without really kicking on, which makes you wonder if it is worth including a temperamental 35 year-old player in your future plans.

Vermeulen has always struggled against the spinners, even on the green pitches of England, so there is no reason why that should have changed as he gets older.

Tino Mawoyo, another seasoned campaigner has done nothing on this tour. So if all these players are constantly letting both themselves and the team down, what do we do?

Who do we turn to? The disturbing but true fact of the matter is that there is nobody whatsoever coming through the ranks who is able to take the place of a senior player who has either become complacent, or who simply isn’t good enough.

Even in the Logan Cup, you will see that players score anything between 500 and 750 runs per season, with perhaps one or two hundreds, and this is considered good.  In county cricket, or any other major first class domestic season, players would actually struggle to keep their place in their team with such shoddy performances.

A batsman is only considered for selection if he scores a minimum of 1000 runs, and a bowler needs to have taken more than 50 wickets in order to have secured his place in his first class team.

So of the current players doing duty in Bangladesh, only Masakadza and Sibanda have earned the right to stay on, and even their performances have been one off and totally overshadowed by their counterparts who have toyed with Zimbabwe A like a cat playing with a helpless mouse.


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