effort.jpgBy Effort Magoso

 

Many years ago I was courted to love a sport, a gentleman’s game. However, that love has over the years brought spells of hope and desolation, tears of ecstasy and moments of grief.

My age-old affection for the game recently saw tears of joy and anger caressing my beard decorated cheeks, as I watched the Zimbabwe Cricket Team play South Africa.

 

The awful bowling and the under-par fielding that characterised the tour did not only bring tears, but also got me asking: has our cricket taken a wrong turn?

 

Not that alone, but many things in the past few months have compelled me to believe so.

 

 

The not-so-convincing win against Ireland, the embarrassing 10 and 9 wicket losses to New Zealand A team by Zimbabwe A and the failure by Zimbabwe cricket players to make any significant moves on the International Cricket Council Reliance Mobile One Day

International (ODI) rankings which were released recently with only five bowlers and four batsmen featuring in the top 100, sums up what is surely a bad patch for Zimbabwe cricket.

 

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The tour of South Africa epitomised how bad our bowling can be at times.

 

The bowling was terrible at best and atrocious at its worst.

Allowing South Africa accrue 399 in the 3rd ODI was bad, but allowing 6 centuries in 3 ODIs can surely not be forgiven.

 

In short, the bowling was terrible, no wonder why Captain Elton Chigumbura had to use 9 bowlers in the 3rd ODI.

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The battling on the South African tour was however decent in at least four of the five matches with average of 170 runs in the twenty20 and over 260 in two ODIs.

 

Again, with a good tri-nations series against Pakistan and India and the famous twenty20 victories over Australia and the West Indies, one could be tempted to believe our days of glory could not be far.

 

While the direction Zimbabwean cricket is taking is somewhere in between good and bad, that of the once cricket cry babies Bangladesh is undoubtable, as the Zimbabwe team was losing at and away from home, the Tigers of Bangladesh were busy tormenting a Daniel Vettori-captained New Zealand in Dhaka to win 4-nil.

 

Bangladesh’s historic exploits in Dhaka were remarkable and got me drowned in envy; I craved for a day my beloved Zimbabwean team will do the same.

 

That is when I found myself reflecting on our former days of glory.

 

Those days when I was a school boy, watching my beloved Zimbabwe cricket team play at the once revered Harare Sports Club, the memories of which are tattooed on me to this day.

 

Watching the then captain and wicketkeeper, Andrew Flower (now England coach), tormenting Indian spin granddaddy, Harbhajan Singh, with the lethal sweep and reverse sweep shots or doing the same to West Indies’ Karl Hooper and every other good bowler world cricket was to unleash on him, were part of my early love with the sport.

 

Endo Brandes, Davis Houghton, Neil Johnson, Murray Godwin, the Strang brothers Paul and Brian, the first black cricketer Henry Olonga were part of this generation of cricket stars that shaped my love for the gentlemen’s game.
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These guys did not win much but they were as tough as a nail.

 

Famous will remain some of the feats they have achieved in those days of glory.

 

In 1992 came the Test-match status, and we became only the ninth nation invited to participate in this format, the pinnacle of the sport.

 

It took us only 11 matches to claim our first test victory, a sweet and unforgettable victory against Pakistan.

 

A generation of cricketing excellence had truly begun.

 

Some may want to be lured to believe I so much yearn for yesterday – no – I’m just reflecting on a season that was the brightest for

cricket lovers in this country.

 

A season the world had no option but to recognise us as a serious cricketing nation.

 

But are we on our way back to that era or have we taken a wrong turn half way through the journey?

 

Having seen improvements with the bat on the South African tour, one will be easily tempted to say so, but the bowling and the fielding told a totally different story.

 

It should however be acknowledged that a new star was born in South Africa in the mould of Shingirai Masakadza. His inclusion in the team came with few wickets though at a cost of many runs.

 

He however afforded me the rare but always welcome opportunity to smile.

 

I long for the day Zimbabwe cricket will provide frequent and lasting smiles. Maybe the return to test cricket next year will signal our

return to glory.