'Whatmore' changes can we expect?

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s participation in this year’s Cricket World Cup was never going to really turn many heads for the simple reason that too many events off the field hampered the much-needed progress that coach Dav Whatmore wanted and expected from his team.

In all fairness, he really wasn’t given much time to work with the team before they departed for the World Cup, so it would be very unfair to even consider blaming him for the team’s one win and five losses.

It would be good to sit down with Whatmore, and have a one-on-one heart-to-heart chat with him and get his true assessment of the team and their chances of getting back to the glory days of the 90s and early 2000s.

There is no doubt that the vibe and spirit in the team has improved since Whatmore’s input, and the batsmen seem to be playing with a lot more freedom, though they still find themselves making the same old mistakes, and getting out at the wrong time.

Sikandar Raza Butt flattered to deceive, which is really heart-breaking and very frustrating, as on most occasions, he looked like the proverbial million dollars at the top of the order.

Despite his 80 in Zimbabwe’s opening encounter against South Africa, Hamilton Masakadza never got going in the rest of the tournament, which must have left the technical staff as frustrated and as disappointed as the player himself.

So what positives can we take out of a World Cup when you only win one game against the United Arab Emirates, and get beaten by the rest of the teams, including an Associate team?

Well, it will probably be up to you, the reader to make your own conclusion on the matter.

The general feeling is that Zimbabwe did not disgrace themselves, which is exactly what they did do when they toured Bangladesh last year.

The batsmen seemed to have improved dramatically against the spinners, although the conditions in Bangladesh are very different to the faster and bouncier pitches of Australia and even New Zealand.

I couldn’t help but observe how much more positive the batsmen were, and even though I abhor the reverse sweep shot, I was suitably impressed with both Sean Williams and Brendan Taylor who played the shot with confidence and regularity, regardless of who the opposition was.

Williams reminds me of Andy Flower in so many ways, he isn’t as good as Flower was, but his approach to batting is very similar in my opinion.

He is busy between the wickets, plays both the reverse and orthodox sweep shot remarkably well, and is also capable of turning it on, and clearing the boundary when the situation demands him to do so.

Taylor ended his career on an absolute high, though he made no bones about the fact that he was very disappointed at putting in the hard yards, and still losing.

The slightly concerning areas are the fielding, the death bowling and quite possibly the fitness of some of the players, who seem to look a bit bulky and slow in the outfield.

Another point of concern is the captaincy.

It is very clear that as good as Elton Chigumbura is with the bat, and especially towards the latter end of the innings, he doesn’t have what it takes to captain the team at this level.

Without meaning to, Chigumbura sometimes allows the game to drift away, which is exactly what happened against South Africa, who were allowed to recover from four for 83 to 330.

Chigumbura is a valuable member of the Zimbabwean team, there is absolutely no doubt about that, but it would be better for him to focus on his cricket, and what role he has to play in the team.

The next question however, is who on earth gets the privilege of captaining the team, now that Taylor has decided to sign a three-year Kolpak deal with Nottinghamshire?

Prosper Utseya is certainly no candidate, in fact he should never have been selected for the World Cup in the first place, as most of the cricket fans already knew that Whatmore would never have been able to have used him.

There were at least three spinners who would have been more than capable of slotting into the team if called upon.

Once again we find ourselves on the very edge of a deep and dangerous drop into the abyss.

Taylor has been lost to us for three years at the very least, and players such as Williams must surely be raising the interest of one or two of the struggling county sides as well.

Comments (3)

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There was never any success in Zimbabwe Cricket. Go to cricinfo and google the stats. You will discover that there has been no success at all since we became full ICC members.

Crispen - 17 March 2015

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