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Zim cricket’s poor showings and misfortunes. Who is to blame?

BY DARREN T CHIKWIRA

The Chevrons, as they are affectionately known have been struggling for form over the years. At best they have been a side that is very competitive but just can’t seem to get the job done in terms of wins. Their 26% win percentage over the past 3 years can be proof of that. The notable wins were the 2018 Bangladesh test match and the t20 game vs Pakistan in 2021. In 59 games played in 3 years 15 have been won, 2 test matches, 8 t20Is and 5 ODIs and had 2 drawn test matches. These are results are quite poor for a team that has many great talented and experienced players such as Brendan Taylor and Wesley Madhevere.

Their problems have been well documented from poor grassroot structures, where a few elite schools play quality and competitive cricket. Poor recruitment has also been cited, franchise scouts are not doing enough to scout talent and aren’t seen at school and varsity games to spot talent. Poor domestic structures have also been highlighted as the chief contributor in the poor showings. The leagues played in Zimbabwe hardly have any foreign players, coaches in them. If these were there fresh and new ideas would have been inculcated into the players. Poor remuneration of the domestic leagues has seen many talents such as Nick Welsh, Gary Balance and Kuda Munyede opt for greener pastures. Brendan Taylor,Kyle Jarvis and Blessing Muzarabani at one stage opted for Kolpak deals. Lack of an out an out spinner has also been a problem since leg spinner Graeme Cremer took a break from cricket. Many spinners have been chopped and changed but without any success, another example of how poor the domestic circuit is in Zimbabwe. Poor selection by the selectors at various stages of these 3 years have also been cited as a major problem.

Many have been calling for the heads of the Board, coaching staff Director of cricket, selectors and players. With all the misfortunes happening who is to blame?

The board?
The board and administrators have been accused for overstaying their welcome as it way. The likes of Givemore Makoni and Lovemore Banda have been there for over a decade but the fortunes of the team are yet to change. The administration has also been labeled as coming from mainly one area, Highfields and are of the same era.Their dedication to the progress of Zim cricket has been in question with some of their board members alleged to have abuse of office particularly financially. Is this leading to stale ideas and doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Is it not the time for new faces preferably younger and or more experienced people at the realm?

Director of cricket?
Legendary batsman, former captain and player, Hamilton Masakadza was appointed 2 years ago to stir the Zim Cricket ship towards the right direction. In his tenure nothing much has changed, the same old problems listed earlier still persist and Zim keeps on losing. Isn’t it his responsibility to come up with strategies that can take Zim cricket forward?

Coaching staff?
These have been under immense pressure and scrutiny from many fans and cricket experts. The low win percentage, stagnant growth of the team, technical issues and their experience coming into great question. The only experienced coach to talk about is head Rajput with the rest relatively new to the international team. Douglas Hondo has been bowling coach for over 3 years now but the team in the past 3 tours has conceeded well over 150 extras with 75 of them coming from the recent ODI and t20 series vs Bangladesh. Zimbabwe’s death bowling has been awful to say the least and hasn’t changed one bit. Hondo has also failed to identify or nurture a quality out and out spinner for the Chevrons.

Stuart Matsikenyeri has been batting coach for the team for years too but Zimbabwe still find themselves having embarrassing batting collapses and batsmen failing to convert starts into big scores. The way the Zimbabwe batsmen get out at times is pathetic and worse than those at colt cricket level.

Understandably these were brought in when ZC was executing its cost cutting measures and possibly due to poor remuneration, quality coaches might have not wanted to coach Zim. Besides that Makunura, Matsikenyeri and Hondo are the domestic serial winners and at that point in time possibly made sense. Is it not the time to get rid of the technical staff and hire more experienced ones now that the ZC debt has been all but cleared?

Selectors?
These for years too have been accused of over looking players. Players to note have been Roy Kaia, Foster Mutizwa and Victor Nyauchi. These have put in very good performances over the seasons but still got overlooked. Mutizwa in particular ended up retiring and taking up umpiring. Recently Kaia and Nyauchi eventually got selected but very late in their careers. Tendai Chisoro and PJ Moor also kept getting omitted from squads when they should have played. Moor ended up going to Ireland to get more game time

Selectors have also been accused of selecting players that don’t deserve to be in the team. The likes of Wellington Masakadza and Timycen Maruma come to mind as they are often on the lips and thumbs of fans across Zimbabwe and abroad. Is it not time to rethink the selection criteria of the Zim Cricket team to make it more inclusive and broad?

The players?
These have had some stick from fans over their dismal performances. They find themselves accused of not putting effort and heart into their performances. Is it their fault?

Whether it’s one, 2 or 3 of these departments to blame, there is need of some soul searching and self introspection and find solutions quickly to stir the ZC ship towards safe lands.

Zim’s next tour is to Ireland and Scotland only time will tell if they have looked within themselves and want to change things.

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