Just about a year ago, Zimbabwe made history by overhauling Sri Lanka in a 5 match ODI series. The series would have instilled a fresh hope for the future and a belief that they could compete among the players and staff. But, what ensued in the past year has been nowhere near their brief stint of optimism.
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From failing to qualify for World Cup to losing a series to Afghanistan, the consistent downfall has been disappointing for fans. Let’s have a look at the timeline of Zimbabwe Cricket’s downslide:
- June-July 2017 – Beat Sri Lanka 3-2 in the ODI series.
- October-November 2017 – Lost two-match Test series to Windies (0-1), though drew one of the matches efficiently.
- December 2017 – Lost the only Test by an innings and 120 runs v South Africa where they were bowled out for 68 in the first innings.
- January 2018 – Beat Sri Lanka once, lost remaining three matches by big margins in the Tri-series involving Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
- February 2018 – Lost ODI series 1-4 to Afghanistan.
- March 2018 – Won 4 out of 7 matches in the ICC World Cup 2019 Qualifiers and later to make it to the World Cup (first time since 1979).
- July 2018 – Lost all matches against Australia & Pakistan in the Tri-series. Later, lost ODI series to Pakistan 0-5 outrightly.
Reduced to Ashes!
Zimbabwe’s performance is like the story of a King turning into a pauper. After a historic performance last year, they are down in the dumps. They simply haven’t been good enough and their loss to Afghanistan is a testimony to the fact.
Following the failure in World Cup qualifying tournament, Zimbabwe Cricket’s decision to sack the then-Coach Heath Streak, skipper Graeme Cremer and Coaching Staff came as a shocker. The removal of Heath Streak was still digestible, but the other moves certainly can’t be justified.
Besides, they decided to drop a utility player like Sikandar Raza, who’s a great fielder, splendid batsman and a useful bowler. Craig Ervine and Sean Williams, arguably two of the most experienced and solid Zimbabwe players were also dropped. With this, the Team management has already stripped off the core of Zimbabwe cricket.
On the contrary, Zimbabwe’s win-loss percentage in ODI under Streak was 37.5%, evidently more than the 22.6% they achieved from 2014 to 2016. Also, the African nation has suffered 9 defeats in 9 matches sans Streak and the core players after world cup qualifiers 2018.
One of the main reasons for the exclusion of the core has been the long running money issues in Zimbabwe Cricket. The management couldn’t pay the staff and players, for some of them had been working or playing for free. The mentioned core players decided not to avail themselves for selection due to the non-payment or payment issues.
Zimbabwe Cricket staff, including the players who featured in the Qualifiers earlier this year, were only paid 40% of their salaries in February. But with Streak and Klusener accepting 40% of theirs, the squad was eventually paid in full for their work during the month.
Road to resurrection
The ability of their marquee players to come down hard on the opposition had kept them alive, at least in the games against the Associate Nations earlier. Now, the only way back for the once glorious African nation is the unit’s integrity. There is no other go!
Although the resurrection process seems out of sorts at the moment, ICC has confirmed the release of funds to Zimbabwe Cricket for outstanding dues and match fees owed to the staff and players.
Zimbabwe would now be hopeful of procuring a full-strength side again in the their next international assignment – a limited-overs tour of South Africa, commencing late September.