Zim cricket on recovery path
THE Zimbabwe national cricket team’s victory over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a One Day International (ODI) series will do much to lift the spirits of local followers of the sport who are yet to fully recover from the disappointment of seeing their team failing to qualify for next month’s global showcase.
Zimbabwe failed to make it to the International Cricket Council cricket world cup – to be hosted by England and Wales from May 30 to July 14 – and will have to watch one of the sport’s most prestigious competitions from the sidelines.
Ironically, it was the UAE who ended Zimbabwe’s hopes of making it to the world cup with a heart breaking 3-run victory in a qualifier that few local supporters of the game are likely to forget.
From a development perspective, Zimbabwe’s defeat to the UAE was a step in the wrong direction as it robbed the current crop of players the chance of gaining the experience that comes from playing against the best players in the game on a world cup stage.
The embarrassment of becoming the first Test-playing team to go down to the UAE in any official international match was a bitter pill to swallow and a huge blow to national pride.
However, that disappointment will now be water under the bridge as Zimbabwe redeemed themselves at Harare Sports Club this time around with a comprehensive victory over the UAE.
Zimbabwe outclassed UAE to complete a series whitewash. The performance by Zimbabwe was clinical and reminded the cricket world of the difference in quality between the two sides.
That Zimbabwe was still able to win without the injured duo of skipper Hamilton Masakadza and experienced batsman Brendan Taylor and the fact that Graeme Cremer was also unavailable following his decision to move to Dubai speaks of a side that has the ability to become a very formidable team on the international stage.
The first ODI was a one sided affair with Zimbabwe winning by a massive seven wickets and with more than 26 overs to spare.
UAE came out fighting and almost levelled the series in the second ODI. However, their efforts were eventually chased down by the hosts, who posted a four run victory in a match that was affected by rain and decided through the Duckworth-Lewis Method.
In the third ODI, an undefeated century by Sean Williams was the foundation for Zimbabwe’s total of 307 runs – a target that proved too daunting for the hosts. The home team cruised to a 131-run victory in the absence of regular players such as Tendai Chatara, who was being rested.
On the final day a blazing innings of 35 off 22 balls by Timycen Maruma rescued Zimbabwe from a middle-order collapse and enabled them to win the final ODI against the UAE by three wickets and complete a clean sweep of the series on Tuesday.
Although critics of the national team could dismiss their win against a non-associate team as insignificant, there are some positives that can be drawn as the southern African country looks to the future.
Having missed out on a place at next month’s world cup, the Zimbabwe players have certainly bounced back psychologically and the series win will make them believe they can hold their own against stronger sides, especially on their home turf.
Their ability to play more one day matches, especially against the established Test-playing teams, will help them to eventually bring back the glory days where their place at major tournaments such as the world cup was guaranteed.