Time for Zim cricket to shine

HARARE - With Zimbabwe’s 50 sporting codes either reeling under the weight of financial challenges or facing administrative misery, the country has been left to look to the forthcoming Cricket World Cup in Australasia for renewed belief and optimism.

The ICC World Cup that gets underway in the ungodly hours of this morning in Hamilton provides everything for cricket-loving Zimbabweans and even those that do not know the difference between a stump and a bat.

Any win of any sought is likely to brighten up the lives of the over 70 percent unemployed Zimbabweans struggling to make ends meet in this harsh economic environment.

Grouped with two Associate members in the form of Ireland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), anything less than two wins would not be tolerated by the local cricket faithfuls.

Zimbabwe open their bid in Hamilton with what seems to be a daunting task against perennial World Cup under-achievers South Africa on Sunday early morning.

The Proteas expect a straightforward test from their northern neighbours but are likely to have their hands full if the form shown by Zimbabwe in the run up to the tournament is anything to go by.

Having completed a clean sweep of their warm-up matches none more important than the moral-boosting victory over Sri Lanka, this should be the time for us to  be producing major upsets.

With the seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka, it seems the Bangladesh debacle has all been forgotten.

Since Zimbabwe’s first appearance at a World Cup in 1983, when they famously beat Australia in its tournament opener, Zimbabwe has played in each of the following ICC Cricket World Cups.

In 1999 and 2003, Zimbabwe achieved its best result by breaking through to the Super Six stage.

In 1999, Zimbabwe beat the likes of India and South Africa on its way past the group stages, while in 2003, it posted totals in excess of 300 against Namibia and Netherlands to progress to the next round.

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?

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