Come home and close the doors

HARARE - It gives me or indeed no other journalist any pleasure when having to write a constant spiel of sadness and negativity about a player or in this case a team and its entire board of administrator.

Zimbabwe’s Test series away to Bangladesh has gone according to expectation, with the host taking an unassailable 2-0 lead with a Test to spare.

The team had put in a lot of thought and hard work as they geared up for this assignment, of that there is no doubt, but it all came to nothing when the Test series got underway.

Of course there have been some very good individual performances, but that is what we expected all along.

But the hard reality of the matter is that despite a very good partnership between Hamilton Masakadza and Regis Chakabva in the second Test, it needed to have gone beyond 200 if Zimbabwe really wanted to be in the game.

A harsh sounding observation perhaps, considering that both Masakadza and Chakabva achieved personal bests of 158 and 101 respectively.

But as we all know, cricket is not a game of personal achievements, it is a team game that has 11 players, picked to do a job for the country.

When a team racks up a first innings total of 433 it seems rather strange to say that the bowlers tried their best and didn't bowl too badly.

But in all honesty, that is exactly what happened.

All the bowlers stuck to their guns, and through patience and perseverance got their 10 wickets.

These wickets did come at a cost however, and ultimately a match losing cost, mainly due to the fact that Zimbabwe simply don't have strike bowlers.

Tendai Chatara is capable of bowling with pace and aggression, but it seems as if the coaching staff have adapted the patience tactic, some may even call it the negative tactic to try and frustrate batsmen out, instead of bowling them out.

Very defensively set fields and defensive/patient/negative bowling will more than likely slow the scoring rate down, but invariably the batting side will get on top of the situation as Bangladesh did and grind out a total which it would be very hard to lose from.

The Tigers would never have been overly concerned about the time factor, as they knew their left arm spinners would have wrapped up proceedings rather smartly on a deteriorating pitch.

And as the national team continued to get a sound thrashing in Bangladesh, more bad news filtered out that former Zimbabwean Test batsman turned coach David Houghton will now be taking over as English county side Middlesex's batting coach, which means that we have lost yet another very important figure.

It is astounding to see how Zimbabwe cricket quite clearly have no concerns whatsoever, as player after player and coach after coach are forced by no fault of their own to take up employment in foreign countries, in order to live out their dreams.

It is common knowledge that Dave Houghton was a highly respected batsman, even before Zimbabwe gained Test status in 1992. That respect deepened considerably when he coached both English county Worcestershire and especially Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabweans rapidly lost their tag of talented amateurs and most teams treated them with the respect they earned through playing good competitive cricket.

And why were they able to play competitive cricket? Well, the answer is a simple one.

First and foremost, they had a coach who had a lot of first-class experience behind him, and when his team graduated to the Test arena, he averaged 44 runs with the bat in just 23 Test matches with four hundreds, his highest being 266 against Sri Lanka.

So with the wealth of experience he had, it was only natural that he would turn these talented amateurs into professional cricketers.

We now see Heath Streak beginning to stamp his authority as bowling coach for Bangladesh, although it is his left-arm spinners who are doing the job, you can very clearly see Streak's influence with the fast bowlers.

All of them now have the ability to bowl well directed bouncers, something Streak was very well known for in his pomp, and each and every one of the Bangladeshi fast bowlers now also have the ability to bring the ball back into the rite hander, a delivery which got Heath Streak half his 216 Test scalps.

But the man who really is stamping his authority in a big way, is former Zimbabwean batting coach Grant Flower.

Both Streak and Flower weren’t offered contract renewals, simply because Zimbabwe cricket have this obsession of wanting people who have never played cricket at the top level to be doing important jobs.

It's not working now, and it will never, ever work, because those type of coaches think with their hearts and not with their heads.

We also had selectors who were of sound mind, and devoid of all things other than cricket, devoid of wanting to bully and threaten and interfere with the captain and coach.

These selectors also had considerable experience of first-class cricket, and new the ins and outs of the game and it's intricacies, and didn't meddle with the affairs of those who knew what they were doing.

The only time when domestic cricket was delayed was if unseasonable rains delayed the start of the Logan Cup.

The then ZCU had money to work with, and they spent it wisely and reaped the rewards for doing so.

Now, we constantly hear of looming player strikes, staff retrenchments and many more unsavoury events.

But is any of this going to change any time soon? Of course not.

We can talk about this amongst ourselves until we have turned blue in the face, popped out hernias and even had heart attacks, nothing good will come of it, because nothing and no one will change the prevention of the ship baring down on the very same iceberg that sunk the Titanic.

Would it not be better to abandon ship and let the lifeboats take us to safety?

Would it not be better to just close the doors and think of different ways of amusing ourselves?

Although very few of the Zimbabwean batsmen are good players of the sweep shot, several officials and administrators are exceptionally good at the under the carpet sweep shot.

The most logical way of cleaning that carpet would be to either give it a good beating, bring the vacuum cleaner and suck out the filth that has accumulated over the last 10 years, or rip up the old carpet, and put down a brand new one.

None of this is going to happen anytime soon, so maybe it is best to just call it quits.

Even if we had the likes of Andy Flower or Dave Houghton as our head coach with Heath Streak as our bowling coach, would Houghton be able to get the team back to what it was when he coached them from 1996 to 2000?

Would Heath Streak bring out the best in our fast bowlers?

Would he be able to get our fast bowlers to run in and bowl with the same intent, aggression and stamina he did?

Would Grant Flower be able to get the same results out of our batsmen when he played?

Would he be able to turn the shambles of our batting around like he is currently doing with Pakistan?

Is it maybe time to admit that we simply aren't good enough to be running with the big dogs, even if the dog is from Bangladesh, which very few people truly respect?

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