POOR batting, mediocre bowling and porous fielding — it’s the same old story.
Zimbabwe A’s 82-
run defeat at the hands of Pakistan A on Monday brought back attention to the field of play as the curtain came down on a season in which off-field politics hogged the limelight.
Zimbabwe A literally gave away two four-day games without a fight before succumbing 1-2 in the just-ended one-day series against the touring Pakistanis, leaving national convenor of selectors Macsood Ebrahim a worried man.
“There’s no excuse for our failure. It’s disappointing because we even had experienced players in the A side, but we just didn’t click,” Ebrahim told IndependentSport yesterday.
Veteran Stuart Carlisle captained the side, while Test players Mark Vermeulen, Trevor Gripper and Stuart Matsikenyeri were also involved in the series although they had nothing really to show for their experience.
“Basically our fielding, especially in the four-day games, was poor. We dropped catches that could have made a difference,” Ebrahim lamented.
“Zimbabwe in the past set high standards in fielding and we should get back to that.”
Ebrahim, however, said the selection panel was satisfied with the Zimbabwe A bowling department. The bowlers acquitted themselves well at a time five other top bowlers are injured, he said.
“I think Chamunorwa Chibhabha and Blessing Mahwire did well in the four-dayers, while Anthony Ireland was also a revelation. Keith Dabengwa was a bit nervous but can do better in the future. I must also say Graeme Cremer was impressive,” Ebrahim said.
The return of Carlisle failed to inspire the Zimbabwe A side on the crease, although there were a couple of 50s. Wickets were given away cheaply in most cases.
“For lack of a better word, our batting was unacceptable,” Ebrahim said. “It’s worrying when in seven international innings we got only one century scored.”
While Ebrahim was pleased with Charles Coventry’s 100, the selector singled out remarkable performances by Neil Ferreira as well as Chibhabha earlier in the series.
“The only positive thing in our batting was Ferreira’s performance. He just did the basics, stayed at the crease and scored the runs,” Ebrahim commented. “If we could get six or seven players like Ferreira, it would be a different story for Zimbabwe.”
Ferreira averaged 49 during the just-ended series, although the 26-year-old is yet to make his Test as well as one-day international debut.
“All our batsmen really have to work extremely hard because a Test player has to average 30. Sadly, the best we can talk of now are Dion Ebrahim and Tatenda Taibu whose figures are not even what we expect,” Ebrahim said.
Ebrahim was however optimistic most players would rise to the occasion when Zimbabwe face New Zealand and India at the start of the new season in August.
“Historically we tend to perform better at home and I’m sure most players will rise to the occasion,” he said.
Ebrahim said selection for the upcoming tours would be based on merit, hinting at major changes in the Zimbabwe lineup.
“No one has the divine right to play for Zimbabwe, so everyone simply has to perform to be in the team,” Ebrahim said.
“However, right now things should be going back to the situation we had two years ago whereby our experienced players will play Test cricket while the younger ones will be given enough time to mature in the A side.”