Zimbabwe endure another Banglawash

HARARE - It was more or less a year ago when Zimbabwe embarked on a lengthy tour of Bangladesh which included three Test matches, and five ODIs, and by the time Bangladesh were finished with Zimbabwe, the team came limping home with their confidence shattered and with a lot of off- field dramas as well.

After Zimbabwe’s woeful loss against Afghanistan, nobody really gave them much of a chance against a team who have been on an all-time high for the last 12 months, with excellent performances in the World Cup, which indicates how much the Tigers have improved as a team.

A few years ago, they would never have coped with the fast and bouncy pitches of Australia, and would have been dispatched after the first round.

Now, they have become a real force to be reckoned with, both home and away.

Their recent series wins over India, Pakistan and South Africa have undoubtedly shown that after many years of disappointment, Bangladesh have finally turned the corner and have left Zimbabwe in the dust.

Cricket commentator and writer Neil Manthorp interviewed former Zimbabwean bowling coach Heath Streak after the series clinching 58 run loss on Monday, and he asked the former Zimbabwean skipper how Bangladesh have been able to beat the stronger teams as consistently as they do?

Streak explained to Manthorp that the coaches have very little to do with the outcome of the matches, but instead do the very best they can to facilitate an environment for the players to perform to the best of their ability.

Whether this was just Streak being humble, or whether his answer was from the heart, it must surely raise the question; What is the current environment the Zimbabwe players currently experience?

Do the remaining coaching staff and management create a happy but at the same time professional environment for the players?

It is safe to say that when Zimbabwe last toured Bangladesh that there was no environment whatsoever, but has it changed, or is it the players who aren’t responding to the coaches?

The first observation is that only one Zimbabwean was able to pass 50 runs in the series.

That batsman being Sean Williams, while captain Elton Chigumbura was the only batsman to show some sort of consistency with scores of 41, 47 and 45 respectively.

And if we as cricket lovers are happy and satisfied with such poor results from the batsmen, we have lowered our standards as much as the standard of cricket has been lowered.

Several of the dismissals showed that the batsmen had no idea to go about chasing the totals set by Bangladesh on surprisingly good pitches.

They weren’t as low and as slow as they would normally have been, so blaming the pitches is not an option.

The batsmen seemed to only have two modes of defence.

They would either occupy the crease and face huge amount of balls without scoring runs, then suddenly charge down the wicket and get themselves out playing an extravagant shot.

Or, they would simply hurl themselves at the target and try to slog the team out of trouble.

There were absolutely no thought processes or planning when they went out to bat, and although Luke Jongwe has shown the tiniest of glimpses of promise and potential, he had a really good opportunity of salvaging some pride in the third ODI on Wednesday, had he simply continued to rotate the strike after Sikandar Raza had gone out.

There may be an argument that Jongwe is only 20 years old, but I wouldn’t be brave enough to use that as an excuse, when one considers that the opening bowler of Bangladesh is also very young and inexperienced and has now become the spearhead of their seam attack, and has often found himself in pressure situations in his still budding career, and has rose to the challenge by keeping a cool head and by keeping it simple.

Bangladesh administrated another comprehensive Banglawash over Zimbabwe, and therefore deserve all the accolades and credit due to them, but Zimbabwe masterminded their demise in a big way as well by showing no fight against a team they have had several battles against for more than a decade.

The fielding seemed to have improved ever so slightly, and it was encouraging to see the fielders effect a number of run outs with direct hits, and Graeme Cremer in particular deserves special mention for his consistency in the field as well as with the ball, while Tinashe Panyangara was outstanding with the new ball.

The two teams now switch to Twenty20 mode and will once again be under the pump to try and restore a great deal of lost and battered pride, but playing a confident team in front of their home crowd who now understands the culture of winning, may be one bridge for Zimbabwe to cross.

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