Cricket World Cup: Key men must come to the party for Zim

HARARE - History has proven that no team does well at a major tournament without its key players taking more responsibility for their work and leading from the front.

All too often, this has been a major let-down for Zimbabwe’s cricket team, with the experienced players tending to withdraw into a shell when the situation calls for them to take games by the scruff of the neck and do more to assert themselves as match-winners.

So, as we approach the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which players have the key to Zimbabwe’s extended stay in the tournament?

Here’s my take:

Brendan Taylor

Taylor has been the backbone of that fragile batting line-up. His form in recent international games, particularly on the disastrous tour of Bangladesh, has been a cause for concern.

But he has managed to pick himself up and got runs in the domestic league. Conditions in Australia will suit the 28-year-old right-handed top-order batsman. I would love to see him keep wicket in an effort to stretch the batting line-up, or give the side a chance of fielding an all-rounder. Taylor likes to build innings and allow other batsmen to bat around him, which makes his wicket a prized one for the opposition.

Hamilton Masakadza

Masakadza is a father figure in the team. A batsman who has been consistent enough at the top for the side.

He scores crucial runs for the team. Playing in his first and probably his last World Cup, the 31-year-old will be under pressure to perform.  In the build-up to the World Cup, he had some impressive innings, which is a confidence booster for the side. 

His bowling is key, too, possessing the golden arm of breaking partnerships and taking crucial wickets with his off-cutters. A slot at number three will be the ideal position for him. He has transformed himself into a batsman who can also destroy bowling attacks. Would love to see him batting through the innings.

Elton Chigumbura

The ODI captain is a key finisher for us. A batsman who can take away the game from the opposition on his day. It is slightly concerning that he doesn’t have much runs going into the World Cup.

Hopefully he gets the runs in the warm-up matches and carry that into the main tournament.  With the return of Douglas Hondo as bowling coach, Chigumbura’s bowling has dramatically changed. This gives the team another option of a fourth seamer. His seam bowling will be also come in handy in the middle overs and will also need to be on point.

Sean Williams

A solid middle-order batsman who doesn’t only provide the stability we have been lacking in the middle order, but also his left-arm spin will add variety to the bowling, a player who is guaranteed to bowl 10 overs every game. Williams knows how to anchor an inning and rotates strike well.

Tinashe Panyangara

Panyangara has reinvented himself to be a disciplined opening bowler. With his accuracy, he poses a threat to any batsman. His ability to move the ball away on wickets that offer assistance to the bowler will make him tick.

He is likely to carry the burden and spearhead Zimbabwe’s bowling attack.  A cause for concern is his lack of variation.  South Africa are aware of his bowling skills and it will be interesting to see how they handle him. His bowling style can be compared to that of the Proteas’ Vernon Philander. With luck going his way, Panyangara will be a key bowler for Zimbabwe, setting the tone for the rest of the attack.


Tendai Chatara

An express right-arm fat bowler whose weapon is speed. He bowls at decent pace and conditions in Australasia suit his bowling.  He will partner Panyangara with the new ball. 

He has bowled well in Test cricket but yet to be tested in the shorter version. Senior players will need to support and instil confidence in him. He seems to have the temperament to handle the pressure of bowling to some of the world’s deadliest batsmen.

Solomon Mire

A new member of the side, with just five ODI caps under his belt, Mire is a naturally-aggressive batsman who has built a reputation both in Australia and Zimbabwe. If allowed to play in natural game, he can destroy any bowling attack in the world. He is particularly effective if the team doesn’t lose early wickets, which them gives him freedom to play his strokes.

He also can build partnership as evidenced by his performances against Bangladesh. A definite starter in the side and hopefully will use experience of playing on Australian wickets to his and the team’s advantage.

He is also another seam bowling option for Zimbabwe.

Tawanda Mupariwa 

His return to the team after five years on the international side-lines was long overdue. Mupariwa is a bowler who can contain an end. Him and Panyangara will form a formidable partnership.  He uses his lack of pace to his advantage, very consistent in his lines and varies length accordingly.

Remember that World Cup in the West Indies in 2007, when he was smashed for three successive sixes by Chris Gayle but came back strongly in the same over and the rest of the innings. He is a bowler who doesn’t succumb to pressure, and will be key in instilling confidence in youngsters like Chatara.

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