Saturday, October 1, 2011

Zimbabwe’s second chance in Cricket

Sport certainly cannot be the most significant thing on one’s mind especially when something as simple as the cost of a loaf of bread goes into millions. Cricket though is slowly beginning to change that notion in Zimbabwe. Despite the decline of cricket in Zimbabwe, the sport has managed to hold its ground and is now seeing a resurrection of sorts courtesy a bunch of surprising victories.
To understand Zimbabwe’s current situation it is important to draw a parallel to West Indies’s condition in the early 1970’s. The men from the Caribbean islands wanted the world to know that they existed and more importantly wanted to show the world that people must be considered without any discrimination. The right to equality was the main agenda on every West Indian’s mind at that time and they wanted to use cricket as their way of expressing that very right. Moreover they wanted to use cricket as a way to break away from colonialism and tell the world that they were just as good as everyone else, in fact they went the extra mile and dominated world cricket for a considerable period. The driving factor that led them to being so successful was the fact that they had their backs to the wall and they had a burning desire to propagate the idea of “West Indies” being an integral part of the world.
Zimbabwe now finds itself in a similar situation. After bursting onto the international circuit as a team to watch out for, Zimbabwe fell prey to political unrest that resulted in several teams, including England and Australia, cutting off cricketing ties. To add to the already existent woes, a barren period of six years as far as playing Test matches is concerned resulted in the country losing its Test ranking. Cricket and Zimbabwe, for most parts of the decade starting the year 2000, became antonyms and the country was known less for sport and more for its rapidly inflating economy. Now Zimbabweans clearly have their backs to the wall and desperately need to propagate the idea of their nation being an integral part of the world. Sport and cricket is certainly one way for them to go about doing just that and the only way they can do it is by breeding success in the way that West Indies did in the 1970’s.
For starters, Zimbabwe has begun their second life rather pleasantly. A fight was all that would have been expected of them even when they took on the lowest rank Test nation – Bangladesh. Those expectations were soon surpassed when Zimbabwe actually went on to defeat Bangladesh quite convincingly in the one off Test match by a margin of 150 runs. Surely a one off Test match doesn’t prove much but it does show some promise. That promise was then restored by the players in the ODI series when Zimbabwe pummeled Bangladesh to come out victorious in the first three matches of the five match series, eventually going on to win it 3-2. The success against Bangladesh is a small step towards resurrecting a damaged cricketing career as a nation and Zimbabwe now need to carry this small step forward. Even though they lost all the matches to Pakistan, but they were not simply blown away as one would have expected. In some matches they came close to winning.
Small steps merging into larger ones is exactly what Zimbabwe must look to do and the fact of the matter is that at this point they certainly have the talent and experience to do it. When it comes to experience the current captain Brendon Taylor has bundles of it and he is probably getting to the peak of his cricketing career which was highlighted after he registered his first Test century in the game against Bangladesh. Brian Vitori became the first bowler to take ten wickets in his first two ODIs. What gets a team going though is the heart and appetite for the game and no one has shown this more in this Zimbabwean line up than the wicket-keeper batsman Tatenda Taibu. Besides all these qualities that Zimbabwe already possesses, the most important facet that they require at this stage is that of patience. When one says patience it surely means the sort of patience and resilience that Zimbabwe opener Tino Mawoyo displayed in his unbeaten knock of 165 off 435 balls in the Test match against Pakistan.
Patience is the one thing that will let this team crawl towards success eventually and not get bogged down by failure but actually learn from it. The real test for Zimbabwe as a cricketing nation beings now. They have got a taste of success and the question now is whether they have it in them to hold onto that success. Taylor and his men must have a burning desire to announce themselves as equals in the world of sport. Zimbabwe has got a second life in the game of cricket and it is essential that they do not let that dwindle away because they might not get a third.
Shashreek Roy for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Shashreek on Twitter @shashreek

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