Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, really was fortunate to be part of the South African
domestic competition. Sharpening their skills in that neighbourhood they marched
on to win the ICC trophy, and competed in the 1983 World Cup, winning a famous
victory over Australia. With gradual improvement the nation was awarded Test
status in 1992. Since becoming a Test playing nation, though, Zimbabwe's cricket
has failed to make much headway. They have done well in One-day cricket, and
qualified for the Super Six phase of the 1999 and 2003 World Cups. In 1999 they
beat India and South Africa. With a shaky cricket base and no resolution to
their internal crisis the future looks bleak.
Behind the scenes Zimbabwe still faces looming tensions and anxieties partly
as a result of the country?s internal political upheaval. Sadly, its repercussions
are felt in their cricket as race has increasingly figured prominently in their
selection. The cold truth is that Zimbabwe cricket is still very much a game
played and enjoyed by its white population and its long-term salvation will
come when more blacks take the game to its heart. Due to a ?player exodus?
it could possibly be argued that Zimbabwe has a stronger side off the field
than on it. A team of exiles can be named - Campbell, Whittal, Goodwin, Andy
Flower, Hick, Masakadza, Johnson, Brant, Nkala, and Murphy.
Having said all that be prepared for a Zimbabwe team with sharp fangs. Judging
from their antics against West Indies and India, they are eminently capable
of winning decisively against Bangladesh. A composite team both in terms of
race and age, Zimbabwe is also a team in transition. At one end of the spectrum
Heath Streak, Stuart Carlisle and Craig Wishart form an experienced core with
more than 500 one-day internationals between them, whereas youngsters such as
Taibu, Matsikenyeri, and Ervine form the future core of their cricket.
Based on a summary of their past performances a few general characteristics,
some not uncommon to other new test nations, can be summed up:
- A close-knit group - most players have been playing each other for some
time now .The Price and Streak bowling combination works well.
- A good fielding side.
- They bat deep down.
- Good balance of youth and experience.
- Lack of killer instinct- inability to put out the opposition when in a winning
- Key players can stumble in crucial times.
- Many key players are plagued by injury problems.
- Has shown signs of collapse during pressure
- Establishing a reliable opening pair.
Now these are some of the players who are likely to be selected for the upcoming
Heath Streak. Age 30yrs. 57 Matches
This man closely exemplifies the adage, ?Your mind truly controls
whether you live in Paradise or Hell? and by carrying out his duties as
captain in chaos he has shown stellar character. Above all his stamina and determination
made him an inspiring and respectful figure in their squad. Streak is a world-class
cricketer, a right arm medium fast bowler, who can move the ball around and
reverse swing. Since making his debut against Pakistan in 1993 he has been the
only Zimbabwean to achieve the double feat of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets. And
today, he is 3 wickets from getting his 200th wicket. So far his best bowling
figures are 6-87 during a tour of England in 2000. Against Bangladesh it is
his batting that created terrible anguish with high scores of 65,67 and 87.
Captaincy has not diminished his batting capabilities and the recent test with
West Indies gave him the platform to score a high of 127. Batting at positions
7,8 and 9 and consistently producing big scores, he is definitely the anchor
of the team. Moreover, his fielding abilities especially his skill at throwing
the ball at a great distance will be lethal.
Career avg. Batting22.92; Bowling firstname.lastname@example.org
Tatenda Taibu (vice captain and wicketkeeper) 21yrs. 12 Matches
Vice-captain Tatenda Taibu and his fellow black teammates are proof that this
team is multi racial. Tipped and directly backed by their board as the next
captain of the team he is undoubtedly the future face of Zimbabwe cricket. Being
a short man, just over 5ft tall, makes him ideally suited to keeping. However,
taking over the wicketkeeping from the legendary Andy Flowers has brought on
a myriad of problems. The huge responsibility on his shoulders has translated
into mistakes on the field and on several occasions he has shown inexperience
at first class level. On the other hand his steadfast and committed batting
has already brought him one Test and two ODI 50s. Taibu achieved his maiden
Test half-century in the series against Pakistan in 2002 and went on to make
useful contributions in losing battles of the one-day series. In addition to
keeping and batting, Taibu is also a useful bowler as he showed at the under-19
World Cup in 2002, where he was named player of the tournament.
Career avg.- 20.96; 19catches & 2 stumpings
Craig Wishart 30yrs. 25 Matches
After 25 test matches he still has struggled to find his permanent place in
the team. Even then he played well against us and scored 118 in the Chittagong
match and followed up with a 94 in Dhaka. He has played at various positions
but his preferred position is in the middle order. Wherever he plays he prefers
an attacking strokeplay and doesn?t like being tied down to the crease.
Consequently his tendency to flirt outside the off stump usually leads to his
downfall. He played in every game of the 2003 World Cup and started off with
172 not out against Namibia. As such, selectors in the one-day internationals
Career avg.-23.62; 15 catches
Andy Blignaut 26yrs. 14 Matches
Probably Zimbabwe's fastest pace bowler and the man that claimed 5-73 against
Bangladesh on debut, (Bulawayo, April 2001). Typically, he's an outswing bowler
to right-handers combined with pace and aggression. His left-handed batting
initially failed to match his bowling, but his flair for uninhibited strokeplay
and the variety of shots make him a man to frustrate any bowler. Playing at
number 9, which is crucial for his team and especially in the one-day games,
he can score very fast as was evidenced by his 54 off just 28 balls against
Australia in the recent World Cup. If it is any consolation for us he did not
make an impact with the bat against Bangladesh. So it remains to be seen if
he can improve on the 91 that he scored against Pakistan just a few months ago.
Although he has been in and out of the team he quickly gained momentum and during
his come back tour to Pakistan he promptly took 5-79.
Career avg.24.96; 46wickets @34.33
RW Price 28yrs. 16 Matches
Price, the proverbial workhorse of the team, has steadily improved his bowling
ever since debuting against Sri Lanka in 1999. After securing a number of 5
wicket hauls he made himself invaluable to his side by recording 6-73 against
West Indies in November 2003. Undoubtedly, his competence as a left-arm orthodox
spin bowler spinner combined with Herculean stamina, allows him to keep on bowling
without end in sight. Bowling over 70 overs in an innings is bread and butter
for him. Together with his persistence his main ability is to remarkably turn
the ball and this could cause problems. Like many of his teammates he is not
shy to take on batting responsibilities lower down the order.
Career avg.9.73; email@example.com
SV Carlisle 32yrs. 33 Matches
Like many players in the team he owes his recall due to the retirement of Andy
Flower and company. One of Zimbabwe's many ex-captains, his experience of captaining
the side in Bangladesh when Brian Murphy got injured, will come in handy. He
has also been Grant Flowers and Grippers opening partners in the team?s
early years. Carlisle is a front-footed batsman who often gets a good start
but fails to translate this to three figure scores despite posting more than
1,100 Test runs. His batting dilemma can partly be attributed to the fact that
he has batted anywhere from No. 1 to No. 7. Huge scores have eluded him mainly
because of his natural propensity for cavalier batting. Also, his failure as
a captain, again partly because of the selection chaos in Zimbabwe, has dented
his confidence. He will certainly be looking to consolidate his batting for
the sake of the team. Bangladesh would need to watch out for him as his form
is steadily improving and chances that he could peak next week are not remote.
We can safely bet that he is in the middle of resurgence as demonstrated by
his polished 118 against Australia in October 2003, which also set a new fourth
wicket partnership record for Zimbabwe. Another irritating detail for Bangladesh
would be the fact that his fielding has been consistent throughout his career
and he holds one of the highest catch figures for his team.
Career avg.25.27; 30 catches
Sean Ervine 22 yrs. 3 Matches
He first represented his country in the under ?19 team and as a 16 year
old progressed to the World Cup to play 3 internationals. He bowls medium pace
outswing both ways and is showing consistency in a team with many young bowlers
struggling to stick to the discipline. As a left-handed batsman he shows a lot
of promise and could be the danger man coming in at 6. When he was selected
as an international there were doubts about his accuracy but he proved his detractors
wrong and returned to take several catches off his own bowling in their recent
Australia tour. In tandem with Carlisle he carried Zimbabwe extremely close
to a famous victory over India in the VE series. Ervine?s batting in that
game was determined and confident and produced not only his first century but
the first 200-run partnership of their country's one-day international history.
A gifted all-rounder, Ervine is a player going places and could very well emulate
his captain?s genius.
Career avg.16.83; 6 wickets @43.00
Grant Flower 34 yrs 65 Matches
Grant has lived in his brother?s shadow but really boosted Zimbabwean
cricket with his disciplined attitude. This experienced all-rounder is a solid
opener, dependable and a good anchor for the faster batsmen. Grant, like his
brother Andy is a grafter, but tends to lose patience faster than his elder
brother. A relentless fighter, Grant's dark moment in cricket was being called
for throwing. He is also the premier fielder with 45 catches to his name. Statistics
may not tell the whole story but Grant's maiden century and unbeaten 201 against
Pakistan at Harare in 1995, enabled his fledgling team to record a historic
victory. Curiously, ever since his debut 82 against India, in 1992, he has relished
batting in sub continental conditions and also has 16 of his 20 centuries against
sub continental teams. So we are not surprised to see that he has a high batting
average against Bangladesh (48.75) with top scores of 68 and 84 in the first
encounter. His batting was less lethal the second time around when we met him
in Zimbabwe with scores of 10 and 33. Although batting the full 50 overs in
ODI and not at great speed, Bangladesh should be more wary of his left arm spin
in the ODIs. That useful off spin provoked all sorts of trouble for the Bangladesh
team and in one-day matches he will certainly be a tough cookie.
Career avg; 29.67; 21 firstname.lastname@example.org
Travis Friend 25yrs.12 Matches
Primarily a genuine pace bowler, especially if he can generate the pace in Zimbabwe
pitches, and potentially a lethal allrounder as his batting has shown. This
man has faced Bangladesh only once and got off in spectacular fashion. Coming
in at number 9 and scoring 81 raised a lot of eyebrows and he will surely be
a man to keep an eye on. Again, with Bangladesh as an opponent, he has the highest
batting average. As an icing on the cake, he took the liberty of achieving his
best bowling figures of 5 for 31 at the same venue against Bangladesh.
Career avg. 29.80; email@example.com
DT Hondo 25yrs. 3 Matches
A Medium pace seam bowler who has struggled to make an impact at international
level, taking 1-87 in his only Test. Like his counterparts in the team such
as Taibu, comes from the same cricketing background, i.e. Zimbabwe Cricket Academy.
More of a player of potential than any real danger he still has to make a significant
mark in the team. Like most players in the team he is fiercely proud of his
batting although his statistics have yet to tell a happy story. In his only
Test so far he left Andy Flower stranded on 199 when he was last man out against
South Africa. Hondo can be a tricky bowler and has the ability to pick up quick
wickets out of nowhere. He gets nothing or lots, has the ability to break partnerships
and the tail enders should be careful facing him as he is the one to mop up
remaining tail enders.
Career avg.5.33; firstname.lastname@example.org
Dion Ebrahim 26yrs. 18 Matches
Following his debut against Bangladesh in Bulawayo 2001, he played 18 matches
but still lacks consistency. The opener notched a half-century and a ton against
Bangladesh. Subsequently, he made three scores of 71 in the space of four Tests
and followed that with 94 (his Test best so far) against India at Delhi in March
2002. He scored a fifty in each of the two Tests in Zimbabwe's bleak 2003 England
tour, but has struggled in one-day internationals despite being a regular since
April 2001. Hardly Zimbabwe's most explosive batsman but has been rumoured to
be another contender for the opener slot. His saving grace is a good temperament
and a sound technique, which favors him together with Mark Vermeulen as the
ideal first wicket partnership for Zimbabwe. His preference for facing pace
still needs to be fine-tuned, as he has also been the victim of too many ducks.
However, like his fellow teammate Blignaut, he is very quick between the wickets
and a brilliant fielder. The team will continue with him and the best strategy
for Bangladesh would be to expose him to Rafique and probe his distinct weakness,
which is any spin bowling.
Career avg.25.42; 13 catches
S Matsikenyeri 21yrs. 2 Matches
He is another youngster that can be labeled as ?future prospect?.
Since his debut appearance as an opener this player has struggled to find his
place in the team. Judging from his only test appearances and ODI his favourite
shots seem to be the cut and pull. He made a solid 57 and a 46 in the second
innings coming in at number 6 during the team?s 1st Test match against
West Indies. His promise in the West Indies series led to his promotion up the
order in the VB series. Since then he has shown inexperience by executing rash
shots outside off-stump without feet movement. Nevertheless, 20-year-old Matsikenyeri
is a promising opening batsman who is also developing his off-spin. Additionally,
he has played club cricket in Australia.
Blessing Mahwire 22yrs. 4 Matches
Since his debut against Pakistan in 2002 Mahwire has failed to live up to expectations
at test level. The fast bowler has only managed a figure of 2-75 in the drawn
match against West Indies and other than that he is adjusting to test level
after coming in from the U-19 team. After a successful tour of Australia he
has really raised his bowling expertise and is expected to be a frontline bowler
as he gains more exposure.
Career avg.6.75; email@example.com
Vusi Sibanda 21yrs. 2 Matches
His impressive performances in the U-19 team and the Zimbabwe academy, which
he captained, propelled him to the international scene. A right handed batsman
batting potential with a penchant for the pull and cover drive but needs to
improve on his shot selection.
A fast-medium outswing bowler
MA Vermeulen 25yrs. 7 Matches
An enigmatic man who has his own mind when it comes to batting. He is the man
Zimbabwe had to send back home after persistent misbehaviour problems in their
England tour. Since then he has settled down and is honing his batting skills.
Unfortunately, he may or may not play against Bangladesh due to his recent injury
(which is not the first time it has happened). Streak will sorely miss this
opener for our upcoming matches, as he is a crucial man once he settles down.
He has the bravado to dominate the opponents with his trademark attacking play
but his free scoring tendency also leads him to get out too many times at the
wrong time. Another player who is peaking, with a highest score of 118 against
West Indies (November 2003 in Bulawayo). It is his experience captaining the
Zimbabwe Under-19 team that had a huge impact on his team?s progress and
during the U-19 World Cup he saw to it that Zimbabwe achieve relative success.
Career avg.29.14; 6 catches