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Perennial problems cost Zimbabwe the first test

BY DARREN T CHIKWIRA

Bangladesh 468-ao (Mahmudhulla 150, Muzarabani 4-94) & 284-1d (Shanto 117, Ngarava 1-36) beat Zimbabwe 276-ao (Kaitano 87, Mehedy Hasan 5-82) & 256-ao (Taylor 92, Mehedy Hasan 4-65) by 220 runs.

Bangladesh dominated most of the only test match to annihilate Zimbabwe by.

The only positives Zimbabwe can take from this humiliation is the fight and determination the young players put in, 2 of them being debutants in Kaitano and Myers. Shumba was playing only his second match. Kaitano played solidly and got plaudits and respect from many that watched him. On debut he scored 87 from over 300 balls, surpassing Grant Flower’s 82 as the highest score by a Zimbabwean opener on debut.

Kaitano did not stop there in an attempt to save a test match on a deteriorating pitch scored 7(106) deliveries showing that he can bat for long periods. The other positive was debutant Dion Myers. The youngster showed good technique in both innings scoring quickly at times, he scored 48 runs in the match. Myers also took 3, one of them being a very brilliant gully snare. Milton Shumba in the absence of the mainstay openers, Kasuza and Masvaure, looked very promising with a bright and breezy 41 in the first innings and a disappointing 11 in the second.

Other positives to take note of were Muzarabani getting a 4-fer leading the seam attack and getting a high test score of 30. Brendan Taylor showed the need of experience with 2 classy counter attacking innings of 81 and 92 respectively. Tiripano managed to get a second test 50. Other than that any positives will be really and truly far fetched.

For Zimbabwe it’s not like they weren’t into control in the test matches or were down and out. They had chances to kill off the match but perennial problems that have plagued them over the years came once again to haunt them. The problems are as follows:

LACK OF DEPTH IN THE DOMESTIC CIRCUIT
The lack of depth in the quality of players in the domestic circuit was put on show in the past test match. As soon as the big guns in Sean Williams, Craig Ervine were unavailable, their replacements clearly weren’t good enough. This left the middle order fragile and it broke twice in the test match to basically hand Bangladesh the win. Tymcen Maruma and Roy Kaia failed to take their chances in international cricket and it was too big for their boots as the pair got pairs each in the test match.

The lack of depth could be attributed to the poor domestic structures in the country. Not many international or foreign players are involved in the circuit, the domestic season is very short and staggered, most talented players opt to play elsewhere due to poor remuneration.

Another factor is poor recruitment and scouting of players. Universities and Tertiary colleges hold their ZUSA,TESA and ZITISU games yearly, but not even one scout from any franchise or national team is seen at the games to snatch young talents and bring them into the domestic scene. Very good prospects are not spotted and opt to irk a living somewhere. The same occurs at high schools loads of young boys and girls are not spotted. All these factors combine to make the domestic circuit very weak.

FAILURE TO KILL OFF MATCHES
Zimbabwe in the past have had so many instances where they had their opponents where they want them only to let them go away. Basically snatching a defeat from the jaws of a win. This was the case yet again as in the first innings bowling on a green pitch had Bangladesh 132-6, a big chance to wrap things up, but let them reach 468. This was a very poor showing from a position of great promise to staring down the barrel.

BATTING COLLAPSES
These have been very common when Zimbabwe bats be it ODIs, T20Is and particularly tests. On a very true and flat pitch and Zimbabwe in a seemingly strong position in their response on 225-2, did they unthinkable. They collapsed to 276-ao. Yet again from a position of promise to staring down the barrel. Zimbabwe after a dismal bowling performance had brought things back quite nicely but just surrendered the game to the Bangladesh side.

FAILURE TO CONVERT STARTS TO BIG SCORES
In the past years Zimbabwe batsmen had gotten some starts in the test scene getting into the 20s, facing over 50 balls. When they get into these positions they usually get out when the team needs them to kick on and get a big score for the team. In the Isphani Test Match, Kaitano got to 87, Taylor 81 and 92, Shumba 41, Myers 21 & 27. All these batsmen got starts but couldn’t convert any of them. If one or 2 of them had converted such starts Zimbabwe would have been in a better position.

LACK OF A QUALITY SPINNER
After the departure of Graeme Cremer, Zimbabwe have not really found someone to fill in his boots. They have tried Mavuta, Chisoro, Wellington Masakadza,Shumba,Kaia, Madhevere, all to no avail. All these spinners have tried their best but are mostly suited to white ball cricket, hence have not found the right penetration or control Zim need at international test level. This was evidenced as Kaia and Shumba bowled over 50 overs and only found success once compared to Shakib Al Hasan and Mehedy Hasan who took over 10 wickets between them.

MISSED CHANCES
There is an old cricketing saying that says catches win you matches. It seems as if Zimbabwe were scared of them as they dropped 3 of them, 2 of them proper dollies to Taylor and Myers.

POOR MENTALITY
Mainly all the above mentioned problems are due to poor mentality of the players. Maybe it’s time a sports psychologist or even as players to take it upon themselves to acquire the services of personal psychologists. There is very good talent in Zimbabwe even in the current squad but in over half of the games mental issues come to the fore and Zim loses.

LACK OF DRS
The DRS is not in Zimbabwe and it is quite costly to acquire one. It is however time to get one as we have seen in the past series at home that many dubious decisions come Zimbabwe’s way. For instance in the 2nd innings the wicket of Roy Kaia which was given LBW seemed to have been going down leg side and Tiripano did not even knick the ball but was given out. The DRS will help reduce some of these decisions and help Zimbabwe win some games. If Zim cricket wants to progress and compete at the level of other nations it needs to have the same standards as their “rivals” as per say and installing DRS is such a necessary step that needs to be taken.

As if that was not enough Myers couldn’t execute a very easy run out chance 4 missed chance

If Zim rectifies one or 2 of the problems they could become more formidable on the test scene.

The 2 sides now shift focus to the shorter format of the game from the 16th of July.

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