By Effort Magoso
Zimbabwe cricket teamâ€™s tour of New Zealand, an island country southwest of the Pacific Ocean, has come and gone but not without leaving a nauseating feeling on every devoted local cricket fan.Though the tour was never a make-or-break for Zimbabwe cricket, it certainly had the potential to catapult our team into the legion of respected cricket nations. It had the power to silence anyone who doubted us. Even a â€˜normalâ€™ loss would do no harm to our reputation. But the humiliating defeat we suffered in New Zealand left many pundits suspicious of not only our ability, but also our seriousness as a cricketing nation.
We were white-washed in all formats of the game in embarrassing fashion. A cricinfo correspondent, Firdose Moonda, said the Zimbabwe team was â€˜annihilatedâ€™ in New Zealand.
The tour of New Zealand was a disaster and many locals would to love quickly forget the tour and leave it in hands of cricket statisticians and historians.
But that will do us no good at all. We desperately need to repair the damage.Â As such, an inquest into the six-week seven-match tour of New Zealand is mandatory.
Before the disaster on the Kiwisâ€™ tour struck, we had created hope for ourselves playing some good cricket on home turf to mark a sensational comeback to Test cricket.
We had made great strides, winning the test and OD1 series against Bangladesh before giving a rejuvenated Pakistan side some good run for their money.
In the City of Kings, our cricket team successfully chased 329 in an ODI against New Zealand only to miss out on what could have become a historical test win, coming within 34 runs of victory.
But on foreign soil, on an island southwest of the Pacific Ocean, things went dreadfully wrong for our promising cricket side and we came back with our tails sandwiched tightly between our legs.
The tour’s sole test in Napier ended in a disaster; we recorded our heaviest test defeat losing by an innings and 301 runs. Our team was devoid of any fighting, succumbing to 51 all out in less than 29 overs and registering our lowest test score ever.
This defeat was even worse than a 2006 loss to South Africa in Cape Town and the 2005 loss to New Zealand at Queens Sports Club, when then a young team was thrust at the deep end only to be wiped into submission. Those losses were the Sarajevo incident that forced us into a 6-year sabbatical from test cricket.Â The Napier defeat, though embarrassing, will not force us into another sabbatical.
It is however an eye-opener into a pending disaster that needs to be urgently averted. The players, the technical team and administrators need to act or we shall relegate ourselves to outcasts in the international cricket family.
In the Napier test, the Kiwis successfully cut a swathe through all known abilities in our cricket side. Only Regis Chakabva exhibiting some knowledge of how to play them with an impressive 63 off 119 balls, otherwise the rest of the guys were out of sorts. The match was only prolonged to three days thanks to the rain that washed out the second day at Napier.
The four-pronged New Zealand pace attack led by Chris Martin outwitted our batsmen and amassed 20 wickets in just more than 2 sessions. This was bad for Zimbabwe to say the least. Last year against Australia A, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Pakistan our batsmen stood out one session after the other, but this time around we surrendered all our wickets in barely 3 sessions.
Our opening partnership couldnâ€™t stay long at the crease. Tino Mawoyo is known for batting long periods thanks to his solid defence, but without his trusted opening partner Vusi Sibanda (who was dropped from this tour) he was predestined to struggle. Tino had benefitted from Vusiâ€™s confidence at the top of the order to settle his own nerves. Without this vital cog of the team (Vusi Sibanda) at the top, Zimbabwe was destined to struggle and they did.
So as soon as the opening pair perished, the middle order couldnâ€™t hold fort and the lower order simply surrendered and left the team grappling with its heaviest test defeat ever.
Many things went wrong in that Napier test and the result testifies to that effect. Our batting was poor, the fielding was not up to scratch and our bowlers were let down by their lack of pace as seen by the number of edges that dropped shot of the wicket keeper.
With more speed our bowlers could have forced edges and put pressure on Kiwis batsmen.
We shall play 3 Test matches this year against Bangladesh and Pakistan and we certainly need to do better if we are not to do any further harm to the credibility we gained last year.
While we played poor cricket in the Napier Test, the three ODI were not any better. Our bowlers leaked too many runs as we conceded more than 370 in two out of three ODIs, losing each by an increasing margin.
Brian Vitori marked his return to the national team in disastrous fashion. He conceded 105 runs in 9 overs becoming only the 4th bowler in the history of cricket to leak more than 100 runs in an ODI. He would certainly want to forget that humiliating innings where he bowled wrong lines and length.Â He even bowled three consecutive full tosses all going for the maximum.
Our batting was again out of sorts as we managed a score of above 200 only once in 3 matches.
Our senior players did not perform; they failed at very opportunity. Only captain, Brendan Taylor, stood up to the challenge but that was never going to be enough.
Our guys only woke up to the demand of international cricket in Twenty20 matches. They scored what should have been a naturally defendable 200 in the second T20 but we lost. Our batsmen had displayed some character but sloppy fielding and an undisciplined bowling attack plus the poor mindset prevented us from taking home a deserved victory. We allowed Kane Williamson to amass 20 runs from 5 balls to win it for the kiwis.
At the end of the tour the Kiwis had successfully managed to decimate all known abilities in our cricket side. As a result many questions ariseâ€¦.has our cricket taken a nose dive again and why so early after showing some signs of moving in the right direction a few months ago?
The disheartening performances in New Zealand should be a cause for concern. If we donâ€™t want our cricket to keep taking wrong turns heads should roll at Zimcricket. Again, some known perennial underperformers must be shown the exit doorâ€¦yes the exit door. Until then, our cricket will continue taking one wrong turn after another.Â Â
The opinions expressed in this article are the authorâ€™s and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.