THE sight of tail-ender Prosper Utseya walking back plaintively to the pavilion at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday, head hung down, told the story of Zimbabwe’s pathetic batting performance.
Pathetic would be to say the least, as journalist
s in the press box ran out of words to describe the horrendous 69 all-out by the youthful Zimbabwe side who were chasing Kenya’s paltry total of 134. Even to call it the mother of all collapses would not do, considering the sorry manner in which Zimbabwe crushed to an unbelievable 65-run defeat.
Kenya now lead the five-match One-Day International series 2-1.
To spoil a session of good bowling, especially by opener Edward Rainsford who retained figures of 9-2-16-3, was tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot.
Although such a show of gutless performances has happened in the past, being reduced to amateurs by Kenya perhaps confirms the worst fears about how Zimbabwe cricket has gone to the brink.
Admittedly, the wicket was slow as the game was delayed by two hours due to a waterlogged outfield, but Zimbabwe had the game in their hands only to throw it away.
None of the batsmen took responsibility, as poor technique and shot selection was the order of the day. At one time Zimbabwe lost five wickets for just four runs.
However, one has to spare a thought for the youngsters. With the score at 65/7, it could still have been possible to salvage the game. But with two under-19s at the crease, Ryan Higgins and Keegan Meth, Zimbabwe were pinning hopes on players who were not even supposed to be playing at this level as yet.
Zimbabwe coach Kevin Curran thinks his players were their worst enemies.
“These players have to listen to what they would have been told,” said Curran in the post-match press conference.
“You don’t get that close to go 2-1 in a series. We just threw it away. If we had gone down doing the right thing it could have been fine. All we had to do was to bat through the overs. No one was ready to take up responsibility and say I will do it for the team. We just threw it away.”
To avoid a devastating series defeat, Zimbabwe need to square the series today with a win in the fourth match at Harare Sports Club before they can look forward to winning the last one-dayer tomorrow.
With the way the Zimbabwe players failed to handle pressure, asking them to avoid defeat is a tough task indeed.
To compound Zimbabwe’s problems, rumours have been doing the rounds about discontent in the home camp over selection. IndependentSport established that black players had threatened to walk out of the team before the Wednesday game, although Curran dismissed the rumours as “absolutely crap”.
He said: “Today was the best selection. Every single selection has been on merit. I don’t know where this is coming from.”
Only three non-white players played on Wednesday.
New Zimbabwe captain Terry Duffin, downcast at the press conference, could only agree with his tough-talking coach.
“The basic game plan went out of the window,” he said.