Fans blast cricket team

HARARE - Zimbabweans are still in shock and searching for answers why they national cricket team lost to minnows United Arab Emirates which wretched the side’s chances of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup.

At the same time, coach Heath Streak and a number of senior players have come out to apologise for the side’s poor performance in the match at Harare Sports Club on Thursday.

After winning the toss, Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer elected to field first with UAE reaching 235/7 after 47.5 when the match was stopped by rain.

When play resumed, Zimbabwe were giving a revised total of getting to 230 in 40 overs to win the match but they came up short three runs.

Fans had turned up in their thousands to fill up the 10 000 seater stadium to capacity cheering their team to victory only to go home disappointed.

Top order batsman Hamilton Masakadza was the fall guy as most fans felt that he should have been dropped a long time ago.

Although he scored 135 runs from six innings at a strike rate of 66.17 and top score of 84 not out, Masakadza received most of the flake.

“How many times should Masakadza contribute poorly with the bat before relieve him of his National duties?” one Zimbabwe fan wrote on Twitter shortly after the game.

Hillary Tinashe said: “Still in pain, but I think this team was not good enough. Cricket can’t lie, its time up for people like Masakadza and (Malcolm) Waller. Next World Cup after 2019 is in 2023, its time to rebuild with the U19s. New blood is needed.”

Tonderayi Machiridza also did not have any kind words for the Zimbabwe opener.

“Zim should have won yesterday but Masakadza decided to be Masakadza and helped UAE win the match,” he said

Speaking with the Daily News yesterday, Streak said he understands the angry sentiments coming from the fans and apologised for his side’s poor performance.

“We are very appreciative (of the support from fans) and at the same time apologetic in not being able to cross the line,” a dejected Streak said.

“We were all extremely devastated. Hardly a word was spoken for at least an hour in the change room afterwards.

“Obviously a lot of emotions and regrets that we failed to achieve having gotten so close twice and I think the devastation of nearly beating West Indies and then working so hard to get back in a Duckworth Lewis revised game against UAE and just to see all the supporters who came out and were so passionate and so behind us.

“The fact that we have let them all down as well as those emotions where quite a few of the players broke down and were in tears...and to be honest we are all feeling quite devastated and to be honest at a loss of words and not much I can say.”

Everything on the day went awkwardly in a different direction for Zimbabwe hosts who needed a win at all cost to qualify for the World Cup.

“I think we obviously need to regroup in time and see where we take things but obviously for a lot of those guys a dream of them going to the World Cup has been taken away so close. Small things like everyone just questioning one little piece of luck,” Streak said.

“It might have been Williams’ one going over Amir Hayat instead of him catching in one-handed, Raza being caught on the boundary going for six.

“We just didn’t seem to have luck, Cremer’s inside edge had it deflected another inch would have gone for four so a lot of ifs and buts but the reality is we are where we are and a sad day for us.

“We will regroup and see where to take things forward but I think one thing we were just really appreciative and indebted to the support of all the people who came out in masses.”

Cremer also paid tribute to the fans and said they will probably be more disappointed than anyone.

“They'll probably be more disappointed than anyone, because they've turned out and at least expected us to win one of these two games to qualify. So there was big expectation on us. We're really sad that we couldn't give them what they wanted,” Cremer said.

“We had two bites at getting to the final, and we've stumbled at the last hurdle. We were so hungry ...the ball was in our court, we just needed to turn up...and play some of our best cricket, then it might have been a different story. Guys are shattered in the change room. I'm sure most Zimbabweans are.”

All-rounder Raza also apologised for the defeat.

“One of the toughest pill to swallow for all of us together and the tears we shed yesterday describes the pain we all felt for everyone and for those who supported us Our fans and families and friends deserved better and all I can say is that We are truly very sorry,” Raza tweeted.

Left-hander Craig Ervine said: “Can’t thank the country enough for the support throughout this tournament!! It’s heart wrenching to finish the way we did and you guys deserved better.” 

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