After coaches, reinforce squad too

HARARE - Laudable as it is, the pending changes in the Zimbabwe cricket team’s technical department needs to be boosted by adding impetus to team line-up, which in this case means reintegrating back players who have prematurely retired from international cricket.

What the Bangladesh whitewash exposed was that Zimbabwe is terribly thin on options, batting and bowling wise. For a team with the smallest pool of players among the 10 Test-playing countries, Zimbabwe can ill-afford to have capable and competent players out of the system for one reason or another.    

The spotlight is now on Zimbabwe following that Bangladesh debacle, and drastic measure must continue to be taken to assure the cricketing world that we are still a bona fide and worthy member of the family.

Going forward, it’s hugely important and totally necessary now that Zimbabwe avoids such embarrassments, with the World Cup and a fresh new year in mind. Reinforcing the squad with players frustrated out of the system, as such, becomes and inescapable measure given the prevailing circumstances.

The first player that comes to mind, though admittedly the least likely to be lured back, is former captain Tatenda Taibu.

An important player in the Zimbabwe team, the reliable wicketkeeper batsman left a huge vacuum when he decided to quit the game two seasons ago to concentrate on his gospel mission, and he has insisted in the few interviews he has given out following his retirement that cricket is now safely tucked away in his past.

Taibu was one of few players of world-class attributes in the side, and his importance to the team can be underlined by the fact that few teams in the world rarely have the luxury of a keeper who is a reliable gloveman and can play as a top-to-middle order batsman and still amass runs.

His batting average was almost similar to that of Brendan Taylor, and although the later can be said to be the more flamboyant and stylish batsman of the two, Taibu scored enough hundreds and fifties to offer a batting dimension that few wicketkeeper-batsmen in the world are unable to.

The second most important player we have lost in recent times is, to me, Kyle Jarvis, who at the relatively young age of 25 quit international cricket due to job insecurity here to take up an offer with English county side Lancashire.

At 25, Jarvis had developed quickly enough and nurtured his skills to become, in a short time, Zimbabwe’s pace spearhead.

In his short career Jarvis had shown an ability to bowl with good pace and swing, and could, for a Zimbabwean bowler, strike fear in the hearts of quite a few Test batting line-ups.

Combining with Tendai Chatara, Tinashe Panyangara, Shingi Masakadza and Keegan Meth, the Zimbabwean pace battery and become worth talking about – and that historic Test win over Pakistan last year was largely due to the balance of that attack.

Meth, with his swinging skills, becomes therefore one of the greatest losses to the team.

And then there is Graeme Cremer, Zimbabwe’s premier leg-spinner at the time of his premature retirement. He had, slowly but surely over the years, become key to the team, with his admirable composure and control.

A bowler capable of producing a good mix of wicket taking balls, Cremer also got it to dip, drift and turn a lot – a handy leggie you can ill-afford to lose at the age of 28.

ZC must draw a lift of players who have been lost, and bring them back into the system for the greater good of the team both in the short and long term.

Solomon Mire, with his two fifties in four ODIs against Bangladesh, was a fine example of players who can add value to their homeland after he arrived from Australia just before the tour.

There are plenty others at home and abroad.

If bigger and successful nations like Australia, South African and India are able to draw from their entire population of several millions to select the best eleven 11 men that walk onto the field at any given time to represent their country – it’s extremely detrimental that Zimbabwe, with its smallest pool among the top 10 teams of the world, are unable to field their best possible XI.

That must be addressed.

Comments (1)

only if they could listen...this world cup is not like we playing domestic cricket...they need to focus and sacrifice for the glory of the country.I can give example of a few players that we also need to talk about ,Edward Rainsford ,Anthony Ireland,Gary Ballance,Ian Nicolson and many other heroes.All i can say is that let the ZC door be open to all the former cricketers who want to come back and play for their country.

simba - 28 December 2014

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