Monday 6 August 2007

Zimbabwe team disgraces the nation

Itayi Viriri

May 28, 2000

Zimbabwe Standard

HAVING suffered yet another humiliating innings defeat, this time at the hands of England in the first Test at Lord's, Zimbabwe is at a point where if this was premier league soccer, they would be relegated to the lower rungs of world cricket.

Fortunately, there is no such thing as relegation for Test nations, otherwise having followed Zimbabwe's terrible run that has seen them lose spectacularly to Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, and now England, in Test matches stretching from October 1999 to the present, one would think they deserved to be relegated.

As usual, Zimbabwe failed to bat as any self-respecting Test side would, a failure which handed English their second biggest Test victory ever. Zimbabwe were skittled out for less than a hundred, this time scoring 83 in the their first innings in the first Test.

More strange is the timing of the players' threats to boycott the English tour because they want to be paid more money. One would have thought that was really not the time to demand a pay rise, when they are not doing anything to justify a pay hike or for that matter, Zimbabwe's inclusion among the Test nations.

By hindsight a boycott by Andy and his charges could not have been bad at all as it would have saved the nation from humiliation. It was very humiliating for a country that did so well at the 1999 World Cup to lose by an innings and 209 runs.

But such a big defeat at the hands of a side that had only won one Test in 10 Tests at Lord's, and is just one rung up from Zimbabwe's bottom position on the Wisden Test standings, would demand consultation of the best soothsayer. Unfortunately, the latest bout of player revolt has resulted in the fans who had seen the Zimbabwean players as role models and sporting heroes during and after the World Cup thinking otherwise.

Visit some of the bars where the discussions are usually centred on sports, one gets the feeling that the same players are now perceived as underachieving spoilt brats, who are getting far too much money than they really deserve. Judging by their performances and behaviour of late it is hard to believe otherwise.

One interesting point to note though, is the fact that the seeds of discontent in the Zimbabwean camp were perhaps sown some eight months ago.

Back then, Murray Goodwin had ruffled the ZCU's feathers by demanding a pay hike during the visit by the Australians to Zimba-bwe in October. Although he later backed down after apologising to the ZCU, the discontent was there for all to see. The player boycott threat and the earlier fears of the whole England tour being called off, were not really the kind of preparation one would have expected from a side on the eve of playing its maiden Test match at the home of cricket. If Zimbabwe is to regain its old form, then there is need for wholesome changes to the team. Without that, the rapid decline will continue. Young players such as Mluleki Nkala and Tatenda Taibu, currently on tour with the side are waiting in the wings to play full Test matches and they should be used, particularly now that some of the older players are failing tp justify their inclusion in the Test side. Without that, the rapid decline will continue. Take it or not. However, with pressure mounting back at home, Zimbabwe are hoping for a change of fortune when they face England in the second Cornhill Insurance Test starting at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Thursday.

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