Death of cricket or new dawn?

HARARE - Warriors fans have often been left devastated after stumbling at the final hurdles of various competitions, but Zimbabwe Cricket’s exit against the UAE last Thursday must be the most bitter of pills to swallow.

Fans were seen shedding tears of hopeless frustration and sadness as the last ball went for 2 runs, and denied the hosts a spot in the 2019 Cricket World Cup which will be held in England.

Zimbabwe have been at every World Cup since their debut in 1983 and nobody would ever have envisaged a ICC World Cup without them.

Where does the blame lie?

Many fans have been quick to blame team selections and tactical blunders, such as overplaying players such as Hamilton Masakadza and Malcolm Waller in particular, and these are very valid points, but isn’t it perhaps time to deal with the head of the serpent instead of the tail?

Who is the head of the serpent?

The serpent is naturally the head of the organisation who has been mismanaging, plundering and pillaging the sport of cricket for the last 14 years.

The administration have shamelessly dragged a once respected team down to the level of only just holding their own against teams they once would have beaten without breaking a sweat.

In the early 2000s, Zimbabwe were beginning to be tested by Bangladesh, and by 2007 Bangladesh had become a better team.

Afghanistan were on the rise, and in 2008, these brave soldier-like cricketers were playing in Division 8 of the T20 league.

Ten years later, they have Test status, several players who will be playing in the IPL and a bowler who is ranked number 1 in the white ball format.

While teams such as Afghanistan, Ireland and possibly the likes of Scotland and the Netherlands continue to make strides in the right way, Zimbabwe continue to falter.

By all means, we can blame the players for once again stumbling at the final hurdle, or choking when it really matters, but perhaps we need to probe further and see where the real problem lies.

A once competent company run by a handful of people suddenly became a haphazard disorganised establishment, run by people with ultra egos who were determined to take as much as they could, and give nothing in return.

On the field, Zimbabwe played reasonable cricket, but with the exception of a masterful performance against Ireland never played to their full potential.

The opening combination of Solomon Mire and Cephas Zhuwao was doomed from the start, and although Zhuwao showed glimpses of why he is nicknamed the “Big Bully”, his bullying tactics didn’t pay off as he never lasted longer than five overs.

Waller should never have been picked to have travelled to Bangladesh and Sharjah, but he still found himself in the squad for the World Cup Qualifiers.

Another perplexing selection was the chopping and changing of left-arm spinner Tendai Chisoro who has done nothing wrong.

Reliable with the ball, and solid with the bat, Chisoro is one of those players who will seldom earn a man-of-the-match award, but will consistently deliver the goods.

The idea of using him to open the bowling against Ireland was one of the better ideas we had seen for many a game, and it was sad to see him demoted to third change bowler against the Windies last Monday.

Chisoro is also slightly better with the bat than Graeme Cremer, who has never been known for his stroke-play or rotation of strike.

Cremer is undoubtedly very good at holding up an end when a top or middle-order batsman is at the crease, but Chisoro is clean striker of the ball and more often than not provides the finishing touch to the innings.

Inexplicably, Kyle Jarvis seems to have lost an alarming amount of pace, as well as the swing with the new ball, which made him relatively easy pickings for the opposition’s top-order.

Brendan Taylor brought all his experience to the fore, with the standout performance of 138 against the Windies.

Sadly, Taylor’s best knocks of 138 against the Windies, 138 against India in the 2015 World Cup, and 145* against South Africa in 2010 were all for a losing cause, and one wonders if he would ever have the opportunity of scoring a big 100 against quality opposition in a match winning cause.

Blessing Muzarabani has become an overnight hero, not only because of his big smile, tall lanky build and somewhat awkward way of fielding, but Zimbabwe may finally have found someone to develop into a genuine deck hitting fast bowler, provided he is nurtured.

Muzarabani needs plenty of time in the gym under the watchful eye of a personal trainer who will not only tend to his strength and fitness, but who also ensure he eats correctly.

Blessing seems to have the ingredients of a genuine fast bowler, and the aggression which is currently missing from his armour will come in time.

Zimbabwe’s player of the tournament, however, is Sikandar Raza who turned out one amazing performance after another with bat and ball, and complemented them with sheer brilliance on the field.

So as we try to recover from this disappointment, the major question is...

Is this the end of Zimbabwe cricket, or the dawning of a new era, as surely changes will be made at all levels; from senior players to senior administrators?

Comments (1)


g40 - 25 March 2018

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