After the humiliation in South Africa where Zimbabwe suffered an innings defeat inside two days of the pioneering four-day Test, the national cricket team should not drop their heads, but instead aim to use the opportunity of the triangular series in Bangladesh later this month to restore the dignity of the game in the country.
Obviously, Zimbabwe were not expected to win that Boxing Day match because of the huge gulf of class between the Chevrons and the Proteas. But sport is a discipline that is filled with many fairy-tales that are similar to the way the biblical David slew Goliath.
However, what left the Zimbabwe cricket family and the world at large worried was the manner in which the Chevrons were rolled over by South Africa in a record two days, apparently without giving much of a fight.
That performance put Zimbabwe in the spotlight for the wrong reasons and as coach Heath Streak acknowledged, his cricketers could have done much better with both bat and ball. The whole world was watching this match following the hype which followed the build-up to the game for it was the first ever four-day day/night Test match.
Traditionally, a Test match is played over five days, but this was a trial run instituted by the International Cricket Council and there was huge interest in the pink ball match. Although Zimbabwe struggled with their batting both during the day and under the unfamiliar floodlight conditions, the South Africans also had some challenges with the pink ball which both teams are not used to.
In the end, the match was heavily lopsided in favour of South Africa and was billed as one of the shortest Tests ever as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 68 and 121 runs. While it is a defeat anyone would want to forget in a hurry, the loss should not just be treated like water under the bridge and Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) ought to draw major lessons from this.
We implore ZC to revisit their shortcomings because South Africa are one of the Full Member nations that we should be competing with. More homework certainly needs to be done and the Chevrons must simply up their game.
They have complained of lack of competitive cricket as one of the major impediments to improving their game, but when they get the opportunity and crumble like they did in Port Elizabeth, it leaves more questions about their pedigree yet Zimbabwe is a country endowed with talent.
If the same Chevrons could go and win like they did away in Sri Lanka last year then what is clear is that with the right developmental programmes and talent identification, Zimbabwe can compete with the world’s top class sides. We trust that both the selectors and the administration have learnt a lot from what happened in South Africa and the results of those lessons will begin to manifest on the tour of Bangladesh.
Of course, development is not an overnight event, but a process and the fact that we have an Under-19 side that is currently at the World Cup in New Zealand gives a lot of hope and provides the silver lining to the dark shadow that was cast by the heavy defeat at the hands of the Proteas.
ZC must wake up to the reality that the more Zimbabwe performs consistently the more opportunities for competitive games they get. Reading from that pathetic showing in South Africa, who else among the top nations would want to waste their time on us?
All hope is not lost, however. The team is scheduled to leave for Bangladesh early next week for a series that involves Zimbabwe, the hosts and Asian giants Sri Lanka. The series will run from January 15-27. This should be the time for redemption. Both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are quite formidable opposition, but the encouraging part is that they are not in the class of South Africa.
Zimbabwe are better off with the limited overs games than Tests. There is need to perform well in Bangladesh and maintain their place in the ICC ODI top 10 rankings. There is also need to put in mind that Zimbabwe will soon participate in the qualifying tournament for next year’s World Cup.
To our advantage, ICC have given us the rights to host the qualifying event which will see 10 countries coming to Zimbabwe to fight for the two tickets available for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup to be hosted by England and Wales.
Apart from on field events, the World Cup qualifiers provides the ZC with an opportunity to market brand Zimbabwe through sport tourism during the games which will run in Harare and Bulawayo from March 2-25.
Article Source: The Herald